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BERLIN: German authorities said on Wednesday they had shut down the “world’s largest” cryptocurrency money laundering website, confiscating millions of euros worth of bitcoin in the process.
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said in a statement that law enforcement officers seized around 44 million euros ($46 million) in digital currency in an operation targeting online platform ChipMixer.
Investigators, working with U.S. authorities and Europol, also seized servers belonging to “darknet” sites.
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German authorities said the operators of ChipMixer were involved in “money laundering and operating a criminal trading platform on the Internet”.
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The site is said to have received criminally obtained bitcoin, paid again after “mixing” it to hide its origin.
According to the researchers, ChipMixer promises users “complete anonymity.”
The service, which has been operating since mid-2017, is estimated to have laundered “approximately 154,000 bitcoins” worth approximately 2.8 billion euros, they said.
Much of it came from “ransomware groups and other criminal activity,” officials said.
ChipMixer, they say, is “the world’s largest money laundering service on the dark web.”
The secretive “dark web” consists of sites that can only be accessed with specific software or authorization, ensuring user anonymity.
Authorities in Germany and the United States have recently teamed up to fight criminal activity related to cryptocurrencies.
Last year, authorities in both countries shut down Hydra, an anonymous illicit online marketplace also operating on the dark web.
Hydra transactions worth “millions” were discovered on ChipMixer, investigators said.