The US Department of Justice has confirmed that the US and Ukrainian law enforcement authorities have jointly seized nine websites that offer cryptocurrency laundering services to cybercriminals and ransomware gangs.
This takedown is a result of a coordinated effort launched by US and Ukraine law enforcement to bust underground digital infrastructure that facilitates cybercriminals in making their illegal money clean.
The operation took place last week and was made possible by the FBI’s Detroit Branch, its Virtual Currency Response Team, Ukraine’s National Police, and Ukraine’s Prosecutor General.
The FBI took down the nine domains that were engaged in the conversion of cryptocurrencies and assisting cybercriminals/ransomware groups. According to authorities, the related servers of these websites, including those in the USA, were also shut down. The websites reportedly offered services in English and Russian languages.
The names of the domains shared by Ukrainian authorities included the following:
owl.gold uxbtc.com 100btc.pro paybtc.pro 24xbtc.com 101crypta.com pridechange.com trust-exchange.org bitcoin24.exchange
Anyone who visits these domains now will see a banner stating that the website has been seized by federal authorities suspected to be offering illegal money laundering and cryptocurrency exchange services.
In its press release, the Department of Justice stated that these were “non-compliant virtual currency exchanges,” boasting a “lax anti-money laundering program” and which do not collect or minimally collect know-your-customer information serve as a haven for cybercriminals. These services violate Title 18 United States Code’s Sections 1956 and 1960.
“Many of these services are advertised on online forums dedicated to discussing criminal activity by providing these services, the virtual currency exchanges knowingly support the criminal activities of their clients and become co-conspirators in criminal schemes,” the DoJ noted.
It is worth noting that Ukraine police arrested a 32-year-old suspect on 28 April for their alleged involvement in using the SIM cards of Ukrainian soldiers and siphoning money from their accounts.
The scammer allegedly stole 2.5 million hryvnia/$65,000 from 2 dozen accounts belonging to soldiers who were either captured, killed, or missing in action. The police seized laptops, bank cards, and mobile phones from the suspect.