20 arrested in QQAAZZ crypto money laundering syndicate: Europol

Law enforcement agencies in Australia, the United States and Europe have arrested some 20 individuals thought to be members of a gang accused of running an international money laundering scheme involving BTC.

The alleged scammers are reported to be part of a gang known as QQAAZZ, reportedly involved in extensive money laundering efforts through BTC and other cryptocurrencies.

The group has allegedly laundered amounts running into the tens of millions of euros on behalf of organized crime groups, with cryptocurrency tumbling chief among their laundering strategies, according to European law enforcement agency Europol.

Members of the crime syndicate have been involved in laundering funds obtained from victims in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Italy, according to the details of a criminal indictment in the United States.

The group is connected to Russian rapper Maksim Boiko, who was arrested by the authorities back in April for his involvement in their crimes. Identified as a result of ineffective crypto tumbling, Boiko was charged by the authorities with conspiracy to commit money laundering over his role in the syndicate.

Authorities became suspicious when Boiko attempted to enter the U.S. with $20,000 in cash. Then they discovered pictures on his phone showing him with large quantities of cash dating back over a number of years, which he later claimed he had obtained through rental income and speculation on BTC.

While Boiko is not specifically named in the latest indictment, some 20 individuals are accused of money laundering offences, and subject to forfeiture requirements. Law enforcement agencies also seized BTC mining equipment as part of their investigations.

The case is the latest example of criminal groups turning to cryptocurrencies like BTC in order to launder money or cover the tracks of their crimes.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, Blockstream and Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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