US Charges Russians With Hacking Cryptocurrency Exchange

US Charges Russians With Hacking Cryptocurrency Exchange

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Two Russian nationals have been charged in the US with hacking into the now-defunct Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange and conspiring to launder the proceeds.

The individuals, Alexey Bilyuchenko, 43, and Aleksandr Verner, 29, allegedly attempted to launder 647,000 Bitcoins from their Mt. Gox hack.

According to court documents, the two and other co-conspirators hacked Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange at the time, in September 2011. Launched in 2010, Mt. Gox handled more than 70% of Bitcoin transactions.

The Japan-based exchange shut down its operations in February 2014 and filed for bankruptcy, after the cryptocurrency theft was publicly revealed. Initially, the company estimated the loss at approximately 850,000 Bitcoins, but soon after 200,000 Bitcoins were recovered from an old wallet.

On Friday, the US unsealed an indictment alleging that Bilyuchenko and Verner were among those responsible for the hack and that they laundered at least 300,000 of the stolen Bitcoins.

One of the schemes they used to launder, the indictment says, was a fraudulent advertising contract with a New York-based Bitcoin brokerage service.

The service allegedly transferred more than $6.6 million to various offshore bank accounts, at the request of Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators.

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In a second indictment unsealed on Friday, Bilyuchenko and another Russian national, Alexander Vinnik, are accused of operating the illicit cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e from 2011 until 2017, when it was shut down by police.

According to the indictment, BTC-e served more than one million users worldwide, processing billions of dollars worth of transactions. The exchange allegedly received criminal profits from numerous hacks, ransomware attacks, and identity theft schemes.

Vinnik, who was sentenced in France in 2020, is currently serving prison time in connection with his involvement in the swap operation. He was indicted in the US in 2017.

Related: US announces dismantling of card and charge verification service against Russian carrier

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Related: US Charges Two Men Over Use of Hacked Law Enforcement Database for Doxing

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