Gang suspected of using cryptocurrencies to launder $1.2 billion

Gang suspected of using cryptocurrencies to launder 1.2 billion dollars.

Gang suspected of using cryptocurrencies to launder 1.2 billion dollars. Photo: Shutterstock

Christian Ploog

christian.ploog@trijo.co

Spanish police have arrested the leader of a gang suspected of using cryptocurrencies to launder 1.2 billion dollars. The gang has targeted and attacked over 100 financial institutions in more than 40 countries.

The cyber gang has been active since 2013. They managed to get into the servers and systems of banks by sending email to bank employees. This is known as phishing.

If the employee downloaded the malicious software, the perpetrators got access to the then infected computer. The gang thus gained access to the banks’ networks. There they could change the balance of bank accounts, and also give ATMs instructions to issue large amounts of cash.

According to Europol, the cyber gang stole up to 10 million euro per heist. The total amount of stolen money is estimated to a staggering 1.2 billion dollars.

In order to launder the money they stole, the gang used cryptocurrencies. They used “prepaid cards linked to the cryptocurrency wallets which were used to buy goods such as luxury cars and houses”, according to Europol.

The money was also changed on crypto exchanges in Russia and Ukraine and then transferred to the perpetrators’ private bank accounts, writes Coingeek.

Bitcoin.

Photo: Shutterstock

The cyber gang consisted of both Russians and Ukrainians. The mastermind behind the entire operation is believed to have been a Ukrainian national named Denis K who operated from Spain. Over the years he has managed to accumulate around 15,000 Bitcoins worth about 120 million dollars. Denis K was arrested in the Spanish city of Alicante.

According to the Spanish Interior Minister, three other gang members were also arrested. They possessed jewelry, luxury cars and properties worth millions, writes Coingeek.

The operation to take down the gang has been extensive and included Europol, the American FBI, the Romanian, Moldovan, Belarussian and Taiwanese authorities and also private cybersecurity companies, according to Europol.

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