Europol in partnership with the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), has taken control of and shut down Bestmixer.io, a Bitcoin transaction “tumbler”, in a crackdown of illegal cryptocurrency transaction services.
According to a press release published on Wednesday, Europol stated that the seizure of Bestmixer.io was the culmination of an investigative effort that began last year, which was assisted by Internet security services provider McAfee. As part of the crackdown, the investigative body seized six servers based in the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Primarily, Bestmixer.io and other “coin tumblers” or “mixers” work by utilizing the CoinJoin protocol to aggregate funds together, thereby creating a cluster of new transactions in a bid to conceal their sources.
Ideally, users of these services pay a fee on top of their sent funds, after which their money is sent back to them from a new and anonymous address. Bestmixer.io was said to be one of the three largest cryptocurrency mixing services. According to the agency, Bestmixer.io has helped to “mix” up to 27,000 Bitcoin tokens, and the company had a reported turnover of $200 million since its launch in May 2018.
Europol claimed that Bestmixer.io was in the business of “mixing” funs that had criminal origins or destinations, adding that “in these cases, the mixer was probably used to conceal and launder criminal flows of money.” The FIOD has reportedly collected data on all of the platform’s transactions over the past year, including IP addresses, BTC wallet addresses, and chat messages. Europol’s press release also hinted that the agencies were not done with the investigations.
In part, the agency said,
“The Dutch FIOD has gathered information on all the interactions on this platform in the past year. This includes IP-addresses, transaction details, Bitcoin addresses and chats messages. This information will now be analyzed by the FIOD in cooperation with Europol and intelligence packages will be shared with other countries.”
The seizure of Bestmixer.io continues what has been quite a busy month for Europol in particular. Earlier in the month, the agency teamed up with the German Federal Criminal Police to shut down The Wall Street Market, which was reported to be the second-largest Dark Webb platform in the world.
A report published by Europol on the shutdown revealed that three suspects were arrested by German authorities, while they also found 550,000 Euros ($615,000) in cash, as well as Monero (XMR) and BTC tokens worth six figures (with the actual being value undisclosed). The raid also yielded the discovery of hard drives, luxury cars, computers, and more items.
Europol revealed that The Wall Street Market has over 1 million registered users, with 5,400 off the users being dealers of stolen data, malicious software, drugs, and falsified documents.