Authorities in the United States and Europe shut down the cryptocurrency exchange ChipMixer and filed charges against its putative owner, alleging that they had laundered more than $3 billion in illegal profits, including $700 million that they claim was stolen by North Korean hackers.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has terminated ChipMixer
According to U.S. prosecutors, ChipMixer handled stolen money for the hackers responsible for the $540 million theft of the online game Axie Infinity and the $100 million hack of Harmony’s Horizon bridge, which enables users to exchange cryptocurrency across several blockchains. According to the Justice Department’s lawsuit made public on Wednesday, the U.S. has previously blamed both attacks on the Lazarus Group, an online criminal ring linked to the North Korean government.
The revenues from ransomware produced between August 2017 and March 2023, according to the prosecution, were also traceable to ChipMixer and totaled nearly $17 million in bitcoin.
Since 2017, the U.S. Justice Department claims, ChipMixer has become a well-liked platform for laundering illegal assets obtained via ransomware attacks, cryptocurrency thefts, and other sorts of crime. Users can mix their money to conceal ownership using mixers like ChipMixer.
Europol seizes $46 million from CryptoMixer
German police said that they had stopped a significant online money-laundering enterprise with the Wednesday seizure of the platform’s German-based server infrastructure.
Investigators shut down the platform known as ChipMixer, securing Bitcoin, which is presently worth around 44 million euros ($47 million), and about seven terabytes of data, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany and Frankfurt prosecutors. The European Union’s criminal agency, Europol, and U.S. officials were also closely partnered, they claimed.
The darknet, a region of the internet that can only be accessed with specialist software and offers more anonymity, was where ChipMixer operated. German investigators claimed it began providing its services in the middle of 2017 and received cryptocurrencies, mostly bitcoin, with illegal origins that had been “mixed” to hide them.
Investigators claim that cryptocurrency payments were made using microscopic units called “chips,” and that users’ individual “chips” were combined to conceal the source of the funds. They continued by saying that ChipMixer offered users perfect privacy.
An estimated 154,000 bitcoin, or 2.8 billion euros, were laundered through the network overall. Darknet markets, cryptocurrencies gained fraudulently, ransomware organizations, and other activities are thought to have contributed a sizeable portion of that.