In a coordinated effort, the FBI and Ukrainian police have successfully taken down nine cryptocurrency exchange websites that played a significant role in money laundering operations for scammers and cybercriminals, including those behind ransomware attacks. The National Police of Ukraine, the Virtual Currency Response Team, and legal prosecutors in Ukraine collaborated to execute the operation.
Websites Identified in Crackdown
The authorities seized the following websites: 24xbtc.com, uxbtc.com, trust-exchange.org, 100btc.pro, pridechange.com, 101crypta.com, bitcoin24.exchange, paybtc.pro, and owl.gold. Each of these sites enabled users to convert cryptocurrency into less traceable coins anonymously, allowing cybercriminals to launder funds without detection by law enforcement agencies. To cater to a wide array of cybercriminal communities, the platforms provided live support and instructions in both Russian and English.
Last week, the FBI and international partners disrupted nine virtual currency exchange services which facilitated money laundering and allowed users to avoid law enforcement detection. #CyberIsATeamSport https://t.co/GqtlzI7g2b pic.twitter.com/sCllgynKnZ
— FBI (@FBI) May 2, 2023
FBI Highlights Risks of Noncompliant Virtual Currency Exchanges
The FBI emphasized that virtual currency exchanges that lack strong anti-money laundering programs or collect insufficient or no Know Your Customer information violate the law and act as critical hubs in the cybercrime ecosystem. By offering their services, these exchanges knowingly aid the criminal activities of their clients, making them co-conspirators in various criminal schemes.
Seized Servers Span Multiple Countries
The operation involved the seizure of website servers located in the United States, Ukraine, and several European countries. Authorities plan to analyze the confiscated infrastructure to identify and potentially apprehend cybercriminals who used these sites to launder money.
Crackdowns Crucial for Combating Cybercrime
Attacks on cryptocurrency laundering networks play a vital role in the fight against cybercrime. These networks enable hackers to maintain their extortion operations and utilize stolen funds in the real world. By dismantling such services, law enforcement agencies not only disrupt the financial activities of ransomware groups but also send a powerful message that illegal and shady activities will face consequences.
Recent Operations Target Cryptocurrency Laundering Networks
Several operations against cryptocurrency laundering networks have taken place in recent months. In March 2023, the FBI, Europol, and German police joined forces to seize the ‘ChipMixer’ cryptocurrency mixing service. In April, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on brokers who facilitated North Korean cryptocurrency laundering networks. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice arrested the founder of Bizlato, a Hong Kong-registered cryptocurrency exchange, earlier this year on charges of assisting cybercriminals in laundering illegally obtained money.