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Crypto Money Laundering Service Shut Down

Antinalysis, a dark web service that allowed criminals to launder money with cryptocurrency by analysing their risk of being flagged by law enforcement, has been closed down shortly after being revealed to the public.

The service was revealed by analysis provider Elliptic, which shared its findings in a blog on 13th August, with BBC News reporting it as ‘the fiendish new trick cyber-criminals are using to evade capture’.

While law enforcement organisations and companies use blockchain analysis to check how suspicious a cryptocurrency wallet is, Antinalysis used the tool to determine if it was safe for criminals to launder their funds via regulated exchanges, reportedly charging $3 for a Bitcoin wallet scan.

The company would then provide an overall risk score for the scanned Bitcoin wallet, as well as individual breakdowns of specific funds.

It was explained: “Proceeds of darknet markets, ransomware, and theft are considered to be ‘extreme risk,’ while funds from regulated exchanges and freshly-mined coins are classed as 'no risk.’”

Dr Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, said that the results produced by Antinalysis are identical to those provided by AMLBot - anti-money laundering software - which is itself a reseller for Crystal Blockchain, an analytics provider.

Antinalysis’ creator, writing under the pseudonym Pharoah, stated in the dark web forum post that the service has been ‘temporarily suspended’ while they attempt to resolve the data issue. The site, which runs on the anonymous web service Tor, currently displays a “service suspended” notice.

Pharaoh also sent a message to BBC reporter Joe Tidy, claiming that it had suffered ‘the unlawful warranted seizure of our data source eight hours’ after the report by Tidy had been published.

Pharoah wrote: “Our team believes that in the current democratic world, every one last human being has the right to do whatever they want and possess a complete overview of their privacy while not violating individual rights of others.

“We consider ourselves activists that dislike state agencies conducting mass surveillance under the name of national security and criminal investigations.”

Regulators have been increasingly keen on cracking down on the use of cryptocurrency to launder money. China has restricted the use of cryptocurrency, as well as a ban on mining, the EU is looking to restrict private wallets, and in the US, stricter cryptocurrency rules are being considered.

Global law enforcement organisations have become more effective at enforcing these rules, for example, the Metropolitan Police Service in London seized approximately $400 million/£294 million worth in cryptocurrency in June and July as part of an investigation into a money-laundering scheme.

Antinalysis' operators have said its shutdown is temporary, so the service could make a comeback after it recovers from the loss of its data source.

However, it also wouldn't be too surprising if Antinalysis were followed by similar criminally-inclined blockchain analysis tools, following the hype.

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