Wednesday, September 27

Spain: Investigating criminals who bought bitcoin to launder stolen money

In Spain, they are investigating an alleged network of cybercriminals with an international presence who scammed bank customers and invested the stolen in bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies. According to the police, this was how they laundered the funds and went unnoticed. So far, 90 people have been identified and 8 arrested.

Local press review that used these digital assets to “launder black money”, avoiding tracing by investigators. According to the Civil Guard, “the main characteristic of the cryptocurrency is that the source and destination data are encrypted, making it very difficult to track them.”

The police presume that when criminals bought the cryptocurrencies, they transferred them to the digital wallets of the members of the group to remain anonymous.

They specified that digital media made it easier for scammers to operate from any part of the world, “Which has meant additional work in the police investigation.”

They already have data on the robberies

The police already have facts and figures. In total, there are about 600,000 euros committed and stolen from clients of a bank and that were taken to cryptocurrencies.

According to the Efe agency, that appointment to Civil Guard sources, criminals deceived customers through smishing, a technique that uses SMS for the victim to provide the necessary data to enter the account.

Already with the data, those investigated today made transfers for up to 5,000 euros to other people, classified as mules, which are the ones who, finally, they transfer the stolen money received in exchange for keeping a commission.

An example of a smishing against a client of the bank BBVA / Source: OSI.

Some 106 clients of a Spanish bank who were not identified were reportedly the victims of the robbery. The Spanish police force remarked that they have been able to identify a criminal network that unites 90 people, with nationalities of Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Czech Republic, France, Belarus, Germany, Ukraine and Cameroon.

In more detail and according to the information provided by the agency, there are eight prisoners in Spain, between 40 and 59 years old, from Romania, Ukraine and that country. The criminals were distributed in Seville, Murcia, Malaga, La Coruña, Girona, Zaragoza, Elche and Valencia.

In addition, 25 bank accounts, of unidentified entities, were blocked and ordered before the Spanish justice.

But can it be laundered with bitcoin?

Yes, but it is not that easy. It is true that Bitcoin defends privacy and transparency. Its blockchain shows everything and permanently. So with the right tools, it is possible to trace a transaction.

Blockchain networks are in essence an accounting book where all the data can be consulted, which facilitates the tracking of a monetary operation within it. This is not so simple if you are talking, for example, about cash, a traditional drug trafficking motive. or are some of the options with which a person or authority can monitor the blockchain and track a transaction.

However, there are ways to make transactions go missing. Mixers or services like CoinJoin are one of these, they ‘mix’ the addresses to make it more difficult to track them.

And, in the same way, there are companies that emerged and dedicated themselves to monitoring operations. In CriptoNoticias we review the case of the block explorer, owned by the blockchain analysis firm, Chainalysis. This tool allows you to identify the IPs of possible cybercriminals. is a block explorer that can help track a transaction / Source:

This, as it became known, was used to provide clues to the security forces, allowing them to track the whereabouts of these criminals.

Antinalysis, likewise, is another tool with which you can find out if a Bitcoin address and other cryptocurrencies are already being tracked by authorities and analysis firms. for being accused of being used to launder money and other crimes.

In addition to all this, investments by large United States banks have been reported in a company that is dedicated to tracking bitcoin movements, called Elliptic.

According to what was reported by this medium, SoftBank and Wells Fargo were part of the last round of financing, of 60 million dollars, raised by the analysis and tracking firm of crypto assets movements, Elliptic, that detects addresses sanctioned by anti-money laundering laws.

Given this, the Spanish authorities have the tools at hand to detect the whereabouts of the funds stolen from these victims and finish dismantling the gang. According to the police, more arrests are not ruled out.