Chipmixer, money laundering and more

ChipMixer  is a cryptocurrency mixing service that allowed users to mix their Bitcoin transactions to increase privacy and anonymity. A mixing service works by taking bitcoins from multiple users, mixing them together, and then returning different bitcoins to each user, effectively breaking the link between the sender and the recipient.


In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) accused the operator of ChipMixer, Roman Sterlingov, of running an unlicensed money transmission business and laundering money. Sterlingov was arrested in 2021 in Los Angeles and extradited to the United States to face these charges.


According to the DOJ, ChipMixer was used to launder more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrency between 2014 and 2017. The DOJ also alleged that Sterlingov had advertised his service on various dark web forums, including AlphaBay, which was shut down by law enforcement in 2017.


Sterlingov has pleaded not guilty to those charges against him, and now in 2023 ChipMixer is in the eye of the storm again as an international law enforcement operation has taken down ChipMixer, a dark web “mixer” that helped criminals launder over $700 million, Europol and other policing agencies announced on Wednesday. Amongst its users were North Korean hackers and Russian spies, according to the Department of Justice.


ChipMixer charged a small fee to take in clients’ cryptocurrency and spread it across different accounts, in order to complicate law enforcement tracking of criminal proceeds, police said. In total, it processed $3 billion, nearly a billion of which has been traced to crimes, including ransomware incidents and darknet market drug sales, the DOJ said.