The cryptocurrency mixer ChipMixer’s assets were allegedly confiscated on March 15 by The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, or Europol, due to the company’s suspected involvement in money laundering operations.
The total assets seized include 1,909.4 Bitcoin worth 44.2 million euros ($46 million) in 55 transactions. Previously, on November 25, 2022, decentralized finance analyst ZachXBT claimed that the hacker(s) of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX laundered 360 BTC ($5.9 million) using ChipMixer following a $372 million attack.
In addition, the ChipMixer website was taken down after four of the servers used to host the program were seized by the police. Since its launch in 2017, according to Europol, the application has allegedly laundered approximately 2.73 billion euros. Law enforcement officers claim:
“ChipMixer, an unlicensed cryptocurrency mixer set up in mid-2017, was specialized 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.”
The Federal Police of Belgium, 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 coordinated the investigation and subsequent enforcement.
Many thanks to our partners in the successful international takedown of ChipMixer, which laundered $3 billion+ of unlawful funds. #FBIPhilly is proud to help disable a site that let criminals exploit technology and threaten our national/economic security. https://t.co/UmM7UAyYyA pic.twitter.com/nQoGppvsum
— FBI Philadelphia (@FBIPhiladelphia) March 15, 2023
According to law enforcement, a significant portion of this is related to dark web markets, ransomware organizations, illegal commodities trafficking, the acquisition of materials for child sexual exploitation, and stolen crypto assets. When money was deposited into ChipMixer, it was converted into “chips,” or little tokens of equal value, which were then combined to hide the originating trail of money.
“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.”
Information sharing between national authorities for the operation was facilitated by Europol. The organization “also offered analytical help tying accessible data to numerous criminal cases within and outside of the EU, and assisted the investigation through operational analysis, crypto tracing, and forensic analysis.”