Guardia Civil (Spanish Civil Guard) arrested eight people in connection with the crime while charging eight more for involvement. Wallets containing 9 million euros were also frozen. This included 20 hot wallets and four cold wallets, per a statement released by Europol:
“Spanish authorities froze four ‘cold wallets’ and 20 ‘hot wallets’, to which €9 million was transferred, as well as several bank accounts.”
Unbelievable! Criminal Support Services Providers Were Operating Crypto ATMs
For the smooth operation of their money laundering scheme, the Crime as a Service enterprise operated a cryptocurrency exchange business. This was instrumental in changing fiat currency into crypto assets for their clients. The cryptocurrency exchange business consisted of two bitcoin ATMs which were used to deposit fiat and convert it into crypto.
The crypto money-laundering ring also employed smurfing and layering techniques common in money laundering activities. The smurfing involved splitting the dirty money into tranches. They would then deposit the portions in different bank accounts owned by the gang.
On the other hand, layering involved moving the funds via several accounts prior to exchanging it for bitcoin.
The gang also had various corporate entities which were used to make large deposits to bank accounts. From these accounts, funds would then be wired to cryptocurrency exchanges based abroad.
Besides the bitcoin wallets which were frozen, two bitcoin ATMs and cash totaling nearly 17,000 euros were seized in addition to 11 cars, computers, devices, and other properties.
Crypto Money Laundering Running Rampant
This is not the only crypto money laundering incident to have hit headlines in the recent past. Late last month, the U.S. Department of Justice charged two men who allegedly administered the Deep Dot Web. This is a review site for darknet marketplaces and websites.
The two, who are both Israelis, were arrested on different continents. One was apprehended in Paris while the other was nabbed in Israel.
Just in: The FBI has seized @DeepDotWeb and arrested its administrators. https://t.co/VUy5XpWzDL
— Zack Whittaker (@zackwhittaker) May 7, 2019
The Deep Dot Web site allegedly generated revenues from referral sales it helped dark-net marketplaces garner from users. Besides the FBI, other government agencies involved in the investigation included the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the IRS’ Cyber Crimes Unit.
Crypto Inspires Transnational Cooperation
Outside the United States, other law enforcement bodies that collaborated included Europol. The Brazilian Federal Police, the Dutch National Police, and the Israeli National Police were also involved.
And last month three men were indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for a crypto money laundering operation. In this case, they were indicted for laundering approximately $2.3 million.
Manhattan DA Indicts Dark Web Drug Dealers for Laundering $2.3 Million in Bitcoin https://t.co/NnEcy8nHRg
— @supremesavages_ (@amoabuggati) April 20, 2019
The three apparently used debit cards which were pre-loaded with crypto. They would then withdraw cash amounts from ATMs located in New Jersey and New York.
About The Author
After words, numbers are my other love… mostly when they are going up and they have nothing to do with taxes or expenses. That makes green my favorite color!