Europol seizes $46M from crypto mixer after $2.88B allegedly laundered
According to The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, commonly known as Europol, on March 15, the agency seized assets of cryptocurrency mixer ChipMixer for its alleged involvement in money laundering activities. Total assets seized include 1,909.4 Bitcoin (BTC) in 55 transactions amounting to 44.2 million euros ($46 million).
In addition, the ChipMixer website has been shut down after authorities seized four servers hosting the application. Europol claims that the application laundered over 2.73 billion euros since its inception in 2017. According to law enforcement officials:
“ChipMixer, an unlicensed cryptocurrency mixer set up in mid-2017, was specialised in mixing or cutting trails related to virtual currency assets. The ChipMixer software blocked the blockchain trail of the funds, making it attractive for cybercriminals looking to launder illegal proceeds from criminal activities such as drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, ransomware attacks, and payment card fraud.”
The investigation and subsequent enforcement was coordinated by the Belgian Federal police, the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany, the Central Cybercrime Bureau of Poland, the Cantonal Police of Zurich Switzerland, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Law enforcement stated that “a large share of this is connected to darkweb markets, ransomware groups, illicit goods trafficking, procurement of child sexual exploitation material, and stolen crypto assets.” Deposited funds in ChipMixer would be turned into “chips,” or small tokens with equivalent value, which were then mixed together to anonymize the initial trail of funds.
“Ransomware actors such as Zeppelin, SunCrypt, Mamba, Dharma or Lockbit have also used this service to launder ransom payments they have received. Authorities are also investigating the possibility that some of the crypto assets stolen after the bankruptcy of a large crypto exchange in 2022 were laundered via ChipMixer.”
Europol facilitated the information exchange between national authorities for the operation. The entity said it “also provided analytical support linking available data to various criminal cases within and outside the EU, and supported the investigation through operational analysis, crypto tracing, and forensic analysis.”