The techniques are sophisticated but crypto laundering cases are still relatively small.
British multinational security company BAE Systems and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, have published a report revealing how cybercriminals launder cryptocurrency.
According to the study Follow the Money money laundering cases via crypto are still relatively small compared to the huge volumes of cash laundered through traditional methods like wire transfers.
But there are some notable examples and the report goes in-depth into the money laundering methods employed by Lazarus Group, a well-known hacking gang sponsored by the North Korean regime.
Lazarus typically steals the crypto funds from an exchange and then starts to pass transactions through different multiple exchanges using something called a “layering technique.”
The hackers employ East Asian facilitators who receive a portion of the stolen funds for helping launder the funds. These facilitators transfer crypto across numerous addresses they own to “obfuscate the origin of the funds,” said the study.
“Facilitators move a portion of the received funds through newly added bank accounts that are linked to their exchange account – this enables the conversion from cryptocurrency into fiat currency. Other stolen funds might be transferred in Bitcoin into prepaid gift cards, which can be used at other exchanges to purchase additional Bitcoin.”