US authorities have charged a 36-year-old American with laundering cryptocurrency worth around $ 300 million. According to the authorities, the man from Ohio is said to have operated a mixing service called Helix in the Darknet from 2014 to 2017, through which around 350,000 bitcoins had migrated to disguise cash flows.
Helix worked in close partnership with the darknet drug marketplace Alpha Bay, the US authorities say. Alpha Bay was excavated by the authorities in 2017, at that time it was the largest platform of its kind. However, Helix served the sole purpose of hiding transactions with money from drug trafficking and other crime from the authorities, the investigators believe.
Thanks to the "growing expertise" of law enforcement officers in this area, the accused could not keep the promise of his service, the U.S. press release says, In collaboration with the local police, the suspect was arrested in Belize in Central America.
Bitcoin is not anonymous
The Bitcoin and many similar cryptocurrencies are, as is often the case, not anonymous payment system. All cash flows and credits are publicly viewable on the blockchain. Mixing services can at least somewhat compensate for this privacy gap. Simply put, the coins of different depositors are mixed and paid out again. So you pay the service a sum and enter one or more freshly generated addresses as the payment destination. The Bitcoin value is then repaid to these addresses – usually with a certain time delay and minus the fees.
The chain of transactions that is otherwise traceable in the blockchain is to be clouded. However, you also have to be able to trust the service provider. And the danger of a police raid, which lifts the service because of criminal users, or that one sits on a fraudster, resonates with the use.
Mixing services no longer the first choice?
In general, the mixing services for criminals seem to be losing importance. A study by Chainanalysis Between 2016 and 2019, professional money laundering activities shifted from riskier mixing to regulated exchanges, especially the Chinese stock exchanges Huobi and Binance. Chainanalysis suspects that those interested in laundering their coins use so-called OTC brokers. For their part, they then go through the exchange of exchange in order to obtain "clean", normal currencies for their clients. OTC brokers are generally regulated more loosely than the exchanges themselves.
Anyone looking for anonymous payments without the crutch of a mixing service is better off with other cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash than with Bitcoin.
. (TagsToTranslate) Bitcoin (t) crime (t) cryptocurrency (t) Mixing services