The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and police in Ukraine have joined forces to shut down nine cryptocurrency exchanges that they believe were helping to facilitate cybercrime.
The FBI’s Detroit branch took down the nine domains with help from the cybercrime department of the National Police of Ukraine. The sites are believed to have been used by digital crooks, including ransomware gang members and online fraudsters, to clean their ill-gotten gains.
“Domain names offered by organizations which were engaged in cryptocurrency conversions and provided assistance to cybercriminals were seized, and related servers were shut down,” said the US Department of Justice (DoJ) when announcing the move.
The shuttered domains were named on May 1st by the DoJ as 24xbtc.com, 100btc.pro, pridechange.com, 101crypta.com, uxbtc.com, trust-exchange.org, bitcoin24.exchange, paybtc.pro, and owl.gold. The operation to take them down took place the previous week, it added.
Anyone visiting the domain names, which previously offered their services in Russian and English, can now expect to find a banner declaring them seized by federal authorities under suspicion of operating an unlicensed money service business and laundering money.
“Noncompliant virtual currency exchanges, which have a lax anti-money laundering program or collect minimal know-your-customer information, or none at all, serve as important hubs in the cybercrime ecosystem,” said the DoJ.
“Many of these services are advertised on online forums dedicated to discussing criminal activity,” it added. “By providing these services, the virtual currency exchanges knowingly support the criminal activities of their clients and become co-conspirators in criminal schemes.”
The joint operation with US authorities marks a busy end of the month for the cyber police of Ukraine, who on April 28th arrested a 32-year-old Dnipro resident on suspicion of using SIM cards that belonged to Ukrainian soldiers killed, captured, or missing in action to siphon money from their bank accounts.
Police believe the suspect stole 2.5 million hryvnia (about $65,000) from two dozen military personnel after illegally accessing their accounts in this way. Bank cards, laptops, and mobile phones were seized in the raid leading to the arrest.
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