FBI and Ukrainian Authorities Take Down Nine Virtual Currency Exchange Services for Facilitating Criminal Activities
The FBI’s Detroit Field Office, together with the Virtual Currency Response Team (VCRT), the Cyber Police Department and Main Investigation Departments of the National Police of Ukraine, and the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, has conducted coordinated, court-authorized activity aimed at stopping illegal virtual currency exchange services. As a result, nine virtual currency exchange services have been seized for offering their services to individuals involved in illegal activities.
The nine seized domain names were used by organizations that facilitated cryptocurrency conversions and provided assistance to cyber-criminals. The domain names that were taken down are 24xbtc.com, 100btc.pro, pridechange.com, 101crypta.com, uxbtc.com, trust-exchange.org, bitcoin24.exchange, paybtc.pro, and owl.gold. These anonymous cryptocurrency exchange services offered to website visitors served as important hubs in the cybercrime ecosystem and were operating in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 1960 and 1956.
These noncompliant virtual currency exchanges have a lax anti-money laundering program or collect minimal Know Your Customer information or none at all, which knowingly support the criminal activities of their clients and become co-conspirators in criminal schemes. Many of these services are advertised on online forums dedicated to discussing criminal activity.
According to reports, much of the criminal activity occurring at the affected exchanges involved cyber actors responsible for ransomware, but also other scammers and cybercriminals. The service’s website offered support in both Russian and English.
The investigation is ongoing, and visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and that operating an unlicensed money service business and facilitating money laundering is a federal crime.
The operation is part of a wider crackdown by US authorities on illegal cryptocurrency exchanges that facilitate criminal activity. With the rise of cryptocurrencies, cybercriminals have increasingly used virtual currency exchanges to facilitate their illegal activities, and this has become a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies worldwide. The FBI and its partners are determined to tackle this issue and bring to justice those who use virtual currency exchanges to support criminal activities.
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