The Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), Europol, and Luxembourg authorities have banded together to shut down Bestmixer.io, a site that offers cryptocurrency mixing services.
Bestmixer pools together crypto funds from different sources and then creates a web of new transactions in order to hide those funds’ original sources. Users then get the funds they had mixed from a completely new address.
The site, which launched in May 2018, had reportedly mixed approximately 27,000 bitcoins. The investigation into Bestmixer began last summer and ended with authorities seizing six servers based in Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Europol claimed in a statement that many of the crypto funds that passed through the site had either a criminal origin or destination and alleged that the mixer service was “used to conceal and launder criminal flows of money.”
“Today’s Bestmixer seizure shows an increase in law enforcement activities on pure crypto-to-crypto services,” said Dave Jevans, CipherTrace CEO.
“This follows on the heels of European AMLD5 regulations and the views expressed by US FinCEN that crypto-to-crypto services are considered to be money services businesses and must comply with those regulations. This is the first public seizure of a bitcoin mixing service, and shows that not only are dark marketplaces subject to criminal enforcement, but other services are as well.”
Investigation not over
Europol called the site’s closure the first of its kind against crypto mixer services. The official statement also suggests that the investigation isn’t over; authorities will be following up on any information they retrieve from the seized servers.
“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,” the agency said. “This information will now be analysed by the FIOD in cooperation with Europol and intelligence packages will be shared with other countries.”
“Bestmixer has blatantly advertised money laundering services, and falsely claimed to be domiciled in Curacao where they claimed it was a legal service. The reality is that they were operating in Europe and services customers from many countries around the world,” said Jevans.