Massive Money Laundering Operation Using Crypto Found in Spain

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Crypto has long been a haven for criminals to launder illicit funds, but recent government crackdowns have seemed to stem the flow of this dirty money entering the crypto world. However, there are still groups of criminals that risk everything to launder their money through the crypto world. Europol has tracked down and arrested eight men in Spain accused of laundering upwards of €9 million. During the raid, Europol seized a range of items, including 200 cannabis plants, two crypto ATMs, and multiple computers, as well as several hardware wallets. In addition to this, Europol located the keys to 20 hot wallets and took them offline.

Money Laundering in Crypto

Many people still believe that all cryptos are totally private and secure, meaning they see crypto as a quick and easy way to launder money. Yet, only a handful of cryptos are privacy-focused – Bitcoin isn’t one of them. This makes it incredibly easy for police to track funds through the laundering systems gangs are using and back to the members involved. This then lets the police take down the gang members abusing crypto for money laundering purposes.

Brazilian Police Facing Similar Problems

On the other side of the world, police in Brazil arrested a man accused of stealing power to mine cryptos, with the block rewards being used to fund the gang’s operations. The man is also accused of laundering funds through the crypto world by buying Bitcoin at various ATMs around the country using cash.

Cleaning Bitcoin for Clients

A Romanian was extradited to the US after he was caught cleaning Bitcoin that was sent to him by criminals. This crypto was illegally obtained and send to the “cleaner” who would exchange it for Romanian Leu. Vlad Nistor – the “cleaner” was the owner of the CoinFlux exchange and it’s understood that he was taking payments from criminals to hide all illegal traces by washing the money through his exchange.

Crypto Exchanges Fighting Back

Crypto exchanges aren’t standing idly by while criminals abuse their platforms. A group of South Korea’s biggest crypto exchanges have teamed up to share data in a bid to stamp out money laundering through the crypto world. By sharing data, the exchanges hope to identify shady looking patterns to be able to stop money laundering from happening. Even with strict AML procedures in place, it can be hard for exchanges to pick up on every single case of money laundering. This partnership allows the exchanges to create a huge pool of data and processing power to pick up on even the faintest signals.
A total of 23 people have now been arrested in connection to the money laundering case in Spain, and it’s thought that the gang no longer has the ability to pass its money through the crypto world. As their modus operandi spreads through AML software, more and more exchanges will be able to pick up on the gang’s activity and report it to Europol.