The anti-fraud agency said Wednesday that they had begun an investigation against BestMixer last summer. It alleged that the service used to facilitate monetary transactions with unlawful intent. The investigation unearthed many cases in which people used BestMixer for concealing and laundering criminal flow money. As a part of the move, the authorities seized six servers in Luxembourg and the Netherlands. BestMixer went offline on May 22, 2019.
The mixer sourced three cryptocurrencies, specifically bitcoin, bitcoin cash and litecoin.
A press release by Europol stated:
Bestmixer.io was one of the three largest mixing services for cryptocurrencies and offered services for mixing the cryptocurrencies bitcoins, bitcoin cash and litecoins.
BestMixer Investigation Continues
The core service offered by BestMixer involved obfuscation. It is an act of pooling cryptocurrency funds together and creating a series of new transactions in an attempt to hide the source. Criminals allegedly utilize the service in exchange for a fee, making BestMixer an equivalent of a hawala operator.
Europol and FIOD alleged that BestMixer had mixed cryptocurrencies worth $200 million (approx. 27,000 bitcoins) since May 2018. The portal made approx. $600,000 profits every month, equivalent to 75 Bitcoins at the currency exchange rate. It maximally facilitated users living in the US, Germany, and the Netherlands, given those people were not using a VPN service to conceal their IP addresses.
“The total turnover of darknet markets amounts to approx. $800 million per year,” added FIOD. “It is believed that a large part of the payments via the darknet take place via mixers in order to launder the criminal (crypto) money.”
Meanwhile, Europol asserted that its investigation was not over yet. The agency revealed that the authorities had collected crucial information from the seized servers that would assist them in finding launderers associated with BestMixer.
“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 chat messages,” Europol said. “The FIOD will now analyze this information in cooperation with Europol and intelligence packages will be shared with other countries.”
The case followed Europol’s mounting crackdown against the cryptocurrency-related frauds. The agency in January this year had arrested a British national for stealing around $11.34 million worth of IOTA tokens from 85 victims worldwide.
Europol also arrested 11 people in April 2018 for laundering more than $9 million via a Finnish crypto exchange.