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Police take down ChipMixer service tied to stolen crypto from FTX, Axie Infinity hacks

Police take down ChipMixer service tied to stolen crypto from FTX, Axie Infinity hacks


The mixing service used to launder more than $700 million from crypto wallets linked to known cybercriminals has been taken down by international authorities.

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

ChipMixer, a cryptocurrency mixing service with ties to the hacks targeting FTX and Axie Infinity, has been pulled offline by the FBI, Europol, and other international authorities. In a press release published Wednesday, the Justice Department says authorities seized $46 million worth of cryptocurrency along with the service’s domains and GitHub account.

Crypto mixing services like ChipMixer make it more difficult for third parties, such as law enforcement, to trace crypto transactions, as they funnel different payments into a single pool of crypto before splitting up each amount and sending them to designated recipients. According to law enforcement, unlike crypto services registered to operate in the US, it naturally didn’t collect identifying information about its users, either. According to the DOJ, ChipMixer laundered over $3 billion worth of cryptocurrency between 2017 and the present day.

Some of its criminally-inclined customers include the North Korean hacking group who stole over $600 million from the Axie Infinity blockchain app, along with the thieves who drained millions from the now-shuttered FTX crypto exchange. The DOJ also charged Minh Quốc Nguyễn, the owner of the service, with money laundering, identity theft, and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

ChipMixer isn’t the only crypto mixer that the government has targeted due to criminal activity. Last year, the US Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against the mixer Tornado Cash and punished for helping North Korean hackers launder the funds involved in the Axie Infinity hack. Not to mention the government’s increasing scrutiny of crypto as a whole following the collapse of FTX.

“ChipMixer facilitated the laundering of cryptocurrency, specifically Bitcoin, on a vast international scale, abetting nefarious actors and criminals of all kinds in evading detection,” Jacqueline Romero, a US attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, says in a statement. “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.”