The crypto industry might have lost billions of dollars in funds to the hands of bad actors. But lately, new platforms being developed specifically to track these stolen funds have succeeded in recovering these funds on multiple occasions. The latest report comes from crypto exchange Binance, as it collaborated with law enforcement authorities in Ukraine to take down some large-scale money laundering schemes.
According to a press release, the three-member group has been active since 2018 and allegedly ran 20 cryptocurrency exchanges. To date, the group laundered more than $42 million in funds for criminal organizations.
The group was primarily operating in Ukraine but was also involved with multiple cyber attacks on a global scale. They advertised their services on criminal forums, offering to launder illicit crypto funds to fiat.
The police identified and arrested the group in late June in collaboration with Binance using an internal project dubbed “Bulletproof Exchanger”. The exchange added that the group also worked with ransomware gangs and were involved in spreading ransomware as well.
Binance and Ukraine
Binance started working with Ukraine authorities earlier this year, and this project is aimed at tracking down transactions between Binance and high-risk entities.
Binance’s internal risk intelligence unit known as Binance sentry conducts these investigations by identifying hubs of malicious activity in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, tracking down the operators, and working with authorities to arrest and shut them down.
The exchange’s analytics team and the security data science division are also involved.
A Binance representative familiar with the matter said:
“’Bulletproof exchanger’ is a general term used internally to refer to a high-risk exchanging service that serves as a cash-out point for criminal activity, such as ransomware.
We kept running into exchangers like these in our day to day investigative work and historically rogue cashout points have played an important role in the underground criminal economy (i.e. BTC-E), which is why we decided to devote research efforts to study this problem.”
As of now, the culprits are looking at eight years in prison, while the pre-trial investigation, in this case, is ongoing.
Over the years, Binance has been involved in several investigations of this sort. Last year, the Cyber Crime Unit of the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police worked with the crypto exchange, to crack down on a Bulgarian phishing expert Svetoslav Donchev.
The news comes days after the U.S. Justice Department froze 300 crypto accounts linked to terror groups, including ISIS and Hamas’s military wing, supposedly using a crypto tracking platform developed by the U.S Internal Revenue Services.