A New York Metropolis man has been charged with hacking, trafficking in stolen bank card information, and laundering cash with bitcoin, highlighting the cryptocurrency’s enduring enchantment to digital and cyber criminals.
Vitalii Antonenko, 28, was arrested and detained on cash laundering costs at New York’s John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport in March final yr after undercover brokers linked him to 2 bitcoin wallets utilized in transactions totaling $94 million.
On Wednesday this week, the U.S. legal professional’s workplace in Boston handed down the indictment that might see Antonenko jailed for 20 years and fined as much as $500,000.
In keeping with the indictment, Antonenko, together with a lot of co-conspirators, scoured the web for weak laptop networks that had been prone to comprise credit score and debit card particulars.
The hackers then offered the stolen data on so-called darknet markets which are used to site visitors all method of unlawful medication, firearms, and information.
It is thought bitcoin in addition to financial institution and money transactions was used to launder the proceeds, with over $140,000 from the pair of bitcoin wallets discovered to have been funneled to wallets managed by Antonenko.
Final yr, Antonenko’s attorneys took the uncommon step of requesting a psychiatric analysis of their consumer after they mentioned he had hassle speaking and urged he’s secretly working for the CIA.
The costs towards Antonenko come because the bitcoin and cryptocurrency group struggles to beat historic hyperlinks with unlawful and illicit transactions.
In January, felony exercise utilizing bitcoin hit an all-time excessive, in line with analysis from cryptocurrency and blockchain evaluation agency Chainalysis.
Whole darknet market gross sales grew 70% in 2019 to over $790 million value of bitcoin and different cryptocurrencies, making it the primary time gross sales have surpassed $600 million.
“Crypto crime will possible proceed to evolve in each scope and technological sophistication, identical to cryptocurrency itself,” Chainalysis researchers wrote in an in-depth report.
“As legislation enforcement, regulators, and cryptocurrency professionals enhance their capacity to forestall and reply to varied types of crypto crime, the criminals themselves will even develop extra subtle—that’s the one fixed we’ve seen as blockchain investigators.”