Dutch authorities have arrested 10 people suspected of running a multi-million dollar Bitcoin laundering ring.
The arrests were made on Tuesday following an investigation that was assisted by authorities in the United States, Australia, Lithuania and Morocco and involved coordinated raids on 15 locations around the country including Rotterdam, Zoetermeer, Almere, Dordrecht, Zaandam, Schiedam, The Hague and Putten.
In addition to arresting 10 men, authorities seized luxury cars, cash, bank accounts, Bitcoin, and in one location 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of chemical precursors used in the manufacturing of Ecstasy.
Prosecutors are alleging that the men, all Dutch nationals, laundered 15 million to 20 million euros ($16-$22 million) for drug dealers who were peddling their wares on the Dark Web, although no specific marketplace was mentioned.
According to a press release (in Dutch), the group came to the attention of authorities after banks raised an alarm that “large sums of money” were being deposited before immediately being withdrawn from automatic teller machines.
“A lot of money was sent to several accounts, and as soon as possible Bitcoin cashers took the money out again,” a spokesman said.
“Bitcoin trade is not regulated or monitored by financial authorities,” the statement added. “So it’s an attractive way for criminals to launder funds.”
While Dutch prosecutors are not specifically stating how they traced the men arrested in each case, besides the alert coming from the large amounts of cash being used through ATMs, it is pretty clear that it may well be a case of stupid does, given that the accused were dumb enough to use the traditional banking system to launder the money to begin with.
Most countries have systems in place that track financial transactions with financial institutions often being required to report any suspicious transaction to authorities, or even any transaction of any sort over a particular amount.
We’re not going to start delivering advice to wannabe Bitcoin launderers, but it doesn’t take a large amount of genius to know that if you’re going to do something like this, it’s best to keep it under the radar.
An initial hearing for the accused will occur before a judge in Rotterdam this coming Friday.
Image credit: 28169156@N03/Flickr/CC by 2.0
Duncan is a co-founder of VC funded media company B5Media and founder of news site The Inquisitr, and was a senior writer at TechCrunch in its earlier days.
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