Ukraine and US authorities bust BTC-stealing and laundering ring

Intelligence services in Ukraine and the United States have partnered to bust a crime ring that allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars through digital currencies. The crime ring is also reported to have sold BTC-stealing malware.

In its announcement, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claimed that the criminals sourced their clients from the darknet, using fictitious names and fake online identities to mask their real identities. 

According to the SBU, most of their clients were hackers that targeted banking systems the world over. 

In addition to the laundering, the crime ring also reportedly engaged in stealing digital currencies. They allegedly sold flash drives that came with malware that would give them access to the victim’s digital currency wallets which they would then wipe clean. 

The SBU cracked down on the crime ring and managed to seize malicious software and hardware, cash, and computer equipment that implicated the criminals in illicit activities. “The seized information is currently being analyzed to prosecute all responsible persons, including foreign customers of fraud,” the agency said.

The operation which busted the crime ring was led by the Department of Cyber Security at the SBU, with participation by the Ukrainian national police and the Prosecutor’s General Office. Together, they searched addresses in Mykolaiv, a city in the southern part of Ukraine. 

Ukraine has been a global leader in digital currency regulation, and consequently, adoption. As CoinGeek reported recently, Ukraine legalized digital currencies, but made it clear that they are not a means of payment. The law seeks to tread the fine line between making Bitcoin legal and preventing its use for illicit purposes.

A month ago, Europol, Interpol and the Ukrainian National Police teamed up to arrest two prolific malware operators in Ukraine. The two reportedly deployed malware globally and demanded digital currency payments ranging from $5.8 million to over $80 million. 

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—a from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRipple and
Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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