Authorities in Europe this week said they took down Bestmixer.io, one of the leading cryptocurrency mixing service in the world.
The takedown was possible due to a collaboration between the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), Europol, and authorities in Luxembourg.
The investigation into the service was launched in June 2018 by the FIOD, with the support from security company McAfee. As part of the investigation, six servers in the Netherlands and Luxembourg were seized, the authorities said.
One of the three largest mixing services for crypto-currencies, Bestmixer.io offered services for mixing Bitcoin, Bitcoin cash and Litecoin.
Launched in May 2018, the service achieved a turnover of at least $200 million (around 27,000 Bitcoin) in a year’s time. It also guaranteed that the customers would remain anonymous.
The crypto-currency mixing service (or crypto-currency tumbler) was designed to mix potentially identifiable or ‘tainted’ virtual currency funds with others, in an attempt to obscure the trail back to the fund’s original source.
The mixing service, McAfee explains, cuts up a sum of Bitcoins into hundreds of smaller transactions, then mixes different transactions from other sources for obfuscation, after which it sends the amount, minus a fee, to a certain output address.
“Mixing Bitcoins that are obtained legally is not a crime but, other than the mathematical exercise, there no real benefit to it. The legality changes when a mixing service advertises itself as a success method to avoid various anti-money laundering policies via anonymity,” the security firm notes.
The investigation has revealed that Bestmixer.io was used to mix many crypto-currencies that had a criminal origin or destination. The mixer is believed to have been used to conceal and launder criminal flows of money.
Bestmixer.io provided clear information on why crypto-currency should be mixed, describing anti-money laundering policies and how the service could help evade them by making funds anonymous and untraceable.
Bestmixer’s website was hosted in the Netherlands, McAfee says. The Financial Advanced Cyber Team (FACT) of the Dutch FIOD was informed on the site’s location, which resulted in the takedown of the infrastructure following a yearlong international investigation.
Over the past year, the Dutch FIOD has gathered information on all the interactions on the platform, including IP addresses, transaction details, Bitcoin addresses and chat messages.
The FIOD and Europol will analyze the gathered data and will share the intelligence packages with other countries.