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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the takedown of ChipMixer, a darknet cryptocurrency mixer responsible for laundering more than $3 billion worth of cryptocurrency in connection with ransomware, darknet markets, fraud, and other criminal activities. DOJ Press Release The coordinated international operation involved the seizure of ChipMixer domains and servers, as well as the arrest of Vietnamese operator Minh Quốc Nguyễn.

ChipMixer allowed customers to deposit bitcoin, which was then mixed with other users' bitcoin, making it difficult for law enforcement to trace transactions. The service, which operated primarily on the Tor network, did not register with the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and did not collect identifying (KYC) information about its customers.

Between August 2017 and March 2023, ChipMixer processed over $17 million in bitcoin for criminals connected to ransomware strains, over $700 million in bitcoin associated with stolen funds, more than $200 million in bitcoin connected to darknet markets, and over $35 million in bitcoin linked to fraud shops.

According to the DOJ press release, Nguyễn, who created and operated ChipMixer, is charged with money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and identity theft. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison. The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and other international partners were involved in the investigation and subsequent takedown of ChipMixer. Criminal Complaint 

“ChipMixer facilitated the laundering of cryptocurrency, specifically Bitcoin, on a vast international scale, abetting nefarious actors and criminals of all kinds in evading detection,” said U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “Platforms like ChipMixer, which are designed to conceal the sources and destinations of staggering amounts of criminal proceeds, undermine the public’s confidence in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. We thank all our partners at home and abroad for their hard work in this case. Together, we cannot and will not allow criminals’ exploitation of technology to threaten our national and economic security.” DOJ Press Release 

“Criminals have long sought to launder the proceeds of their illegal activity through various means,” said Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire of the FBI Philadelphia Field Office. “Technology has changed the game, though, with a site like ChipMixer and facilitator like Nguyen enabling bad actors to do so on a grand scale with ease. In response, the FBI continues to evolve in the ways we ‘follow the money’ of illegal enterprise, employing all the tools and techniques at our disposal and drawing on our strong partnerships at home and around the globe. As a result, there’s now one less option for criminals worldwide to launder their dirty money.”

This blog post was prepared with the assistance of ChatGPT-4 AI. Nothing in this post should be considered legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This blog is strictly for informational purposes only. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer

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