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Chip Mixer – a notorious crypto tool designed to hide where digital currencies have been garnered or who they’re being used by – has been shut down by authorities with the Department of Justice (DOJ). At the time of writing, it is believed the tool allowed cyberthieves and assorted criminals to launder as much as $3 billion in illicit digital funds.
Chip Mixer Is No More
The DOJ also put out a statement claiming to have shuttered two sites associated with Chip Mixer along with the primary product itself. Chip Mixer may have been involved in several hacking schemes, as well as crypto heists, fraud, and even ransomware. The statement read as follows:
This morning, working with partners at home and abroad, the Department of Justice disabled a prolific cryptocurrency mixer, which has fueled ransomware attacks, state-sponsored crypto-heists, and darknet purchases across the globe.
Mixers can be very dangerous in that they are built to hide digital assets from prying eyes and law enforcement agencies. Thus, should crypto thieves or other illicit actors seek out their services, they can enclose where they receive their money, where they’re sending it, and who they got it from. This is troublesome because if the money is stolen (and most of the time, it is) it can be hard to trace, and thus victims stand to lose out 90 percent of the time.
In addition to shutting down the mixer, a Vietnamese operator of the tool has been arrested and charged with money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and identity theft among other things. A separate complaint reads:
Chip Mixer attracted a significant criminal clientele and became indispensable in obfuscating and laundering funds from multiple criminal schemes.
Jacqueline Maguire of the FBI Philadelphia Field Office also threw her two cents in, commenting:
Criminals have long sought to launder the proceeds of their illegal activity through various means. Technology has changed the game, though, with a site like Chip Mixer and facilitator[s] like Nguyen enabling bad actors to do so on a grand scale with ease.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. has targeted a foreign mixer. Not too long ago, the country issued sanctions against Tornado Cash, which is alleged to have been utilized by agents of North Korea to launder as much as $7 billion in crypto assets.
This Wasn’t the First Time for the U.S.
Brian Nelson – Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence – explained during the process:
Despite public assurances otherwise, Tornado Cash has repeatedly failed to impose effective controls designed to stop it from laundering funds for malicious cyber actors on a regular basis and without basic measures to address its risks. The Treasury will continue to aggressively pursue actions against mixers that launder virtual currency for criminals and those who assist them.