Cybercriminals dealing in cryptocurrencies are increasingly using crypto mixers to complicate the tracking of electronic transactions. It has become a common service and is expected to become even more popular as governments seek to regulate crypto exchanges.
Mixers provide more privacy in cryptocurrency transactions. It can also be used to obfuscate the source of funds. Chainalysis research states that financial privacy is important to people living under oppressive governments or who need the ability to make legal transactions anonymously. It highlights that nearly 10% of all funds sent from illicit addresses are sent to mixers. Data shows that mixers are getting more cryptocurrency than ever in 2022.
It should be noted that the value received by mixers fluctuates significantly day to day. On April 19, 2022, the 30-day moving average reached an all-time high of $51.8 million worth of cryptocurrency. This doubled incoming volumes during the same period in 2021.
So what are crypto mixers or crypto tumblers?
It mixes digital money with that of other users to make multiple combinations with countless transactions, and to obfuscate the source and destination of crypto assets. These services are widely available in shady forums as well as on the surface web. Such a practice is illegal in many places but it’s available for everyone, whereby the provider of such a service offers it as a privacy improvement.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in the United States, highlighted mixers as money transmitters under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), as such it has to register with FinCEN. It has to develop, implement and maintain an anti-money laundering compliance program. The agency penalized Helix and Coin Ninja in 2020 for operating unregistered money services businesses. The Department of Justice, in 2021, arrested and charged the operator of Bitcoin Fog with money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and money transmission without a license.
Transactions are being pushed into mixers from DeFi protocols, centralized exchanges, and addresses connected to illicit activity.