A man in New York City has been charged with laundering money through bitcoin. 28-year-old Vitalii Antonenko was arrested in March last year while arriving from the Ukraine to New York’s JFK airport after federal agents linked two bitcoin wallets to him that had been used to launder as much as $94 million in digital funds.
Antonenko Will Face Criminal Charges
Crypto crime is no laughing matter. There are many cases seeping their way into the digital finance industry, and the methods used for stealing, laundering, and hacking money are wide and varied. One common method involves attacking crypto exchanges directly, particularly those that utilize hot wallet storage, which is far less safe than cold storage.
Two of the biggest examples that come to mind are Mt. Gox and Coincheck. Both exchanges are based in Japan. Mt. Gox was hacked in February of 2014 and lost more than $400 million in bitcoin funds, while Coincheck was hacked roughly four years later in January of 2018. It has gone down in history as the heaviest crypto exchange hack in the history of the space, with more than half-a-billion in digital money stolen right out from under executives’ noses.
To this day, much of the money taken from these platforms remains at large and unreturned.
Other methods of stealing crypto are a little more direct, and often single out individuals or certain people. One such method is known as crypto jacking. The process occurs when a hacker overtakes a person’s computer or digital device without their knowledge or consent. They then begin mining cryptocurrency using their electricity. The crypto of choice is often Monero, which remains popular amongst hackers given its quasi-anonymous properties.
Hackers can make a solid fortune mining digital currency from someone else’s computer, while the owner of the device walks away with nothing minus the high energy bills that they receive in their mailbox every month. It’s an ugly process, and it’s also terribly unfair.
After more than a year in custody, lawmakers in Boston have handed out the charges to Antonenko, who faces a prison term of more than 20 years and a fine of half-a-million dollars if found guilty. Aside from using bitcoin to launder funds, Antonenko is also charged with credit and debit card fraud.
The legal team against him claims that he scoured websites looking for open or vulnerable computer networks that contained card details of unsuspecting individuals. Information regarding the cards and the identities of the victims was then sold to dark markets around the world.
This Isn’t Going to Stop Soon
In a recent report, blockchain security firm Chainalysis explains:
Crypto crime will likely continue to evolve in both scope and technological sophistication, just like cryptocurrency itself. As law enforcement, regulators and crypto professionals improve their ability to prevent and respond to various forms of crime, the criminals themselves will also grow more sophisticated. That’s the one constant we’ve seen.