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After a year of near inactivity, the Bitcoin funds of the rogue exchange BTC-e are on the move again. Chainalysis, an American blockchain analytics company headquartered in New York, is reports that 10,000 BTC, worth approximately $165 million, were transferred.

The destination of transactions are personal wallets, exchange deposit addresses and other services. Remarkably, the transfer is the biggest withdrawal since April 2018.

BTC-e was a crypto exchange founded in July 2011 and shut down in 2017 following a joint investigation by the US Secret Service and the FBI. According to allegations, BTC-e has been instrumental in laundering money for ransomware attacks.

Like NewsBTC reportedsecurity researchers estimated that BTC-e was responsible for 95% of all ransomware payments and their conversion into fiat currencies.

Russian citizen and co-founder of BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik, was also allegedly involved in the theft of 530,000 of the more than 800,000 Bitcoin stolen from Mount Gox. After serving two years in prison in France, Vinnik was extradited to the United States in August.

As Chainalysis notes, BTC-e still held a significant amount of Bitcoin when it was shut down in 2017. In April 2018, BTC-e moved over 30,000 Bitcoin from its service wallet. About $50 million of that went to the now-sanctioned OTC counter Suex.

BTC-e Fraudster about to dump its bitcoin?

Since then, the masterminds of the fraudulent exchange had remained relatively silent. It was only in October 2021 that BTC-e sent over 100 Bitcoins worth over $6 million to personal wallets and eventually multiple exchanges “serving Russia and other countries in the world.” ‘Eastern Europe’, according to Chainalysis.

Yesterday’s transaction appears to be the tip of the iceberg and a longer-planned move. BTC-e scammers started withdrawing cryptocurrencies a month ago already. On October 26, BTC-e and its successor WEX sent small amounts of Bitcoin to Webmoney, a Russian electronic payment service.

Then, on November 11, BTC-e conducted a test by indirectly transferring 100 Bitcoin to an exchange. After apparently succeeding, BTC-e pulled off yesterday’s big shot.

Bitcoin BTC-e
BTC-e transaction as constructed by Chainalysis. Image:

Chainalysis concluded that approximately 9,950 Bitcoins remain in the fraudsters’ personal wallets, “while the rest have been moved through a series of intermediaries to four deposit addresses on two major exchanges. In the case of Exchange 1, described above, our analysis suggests a Russian exchange may have acted as an intermediary to launder this BTC-e money”.

CryptoQuant CEO Ki Young Ju confirmed that the BTC came from the criminals linked to the 2014 Mt. Gox hack. government auction or whatever,” he said. Ju urged the exchange to suspend the account due to suspicious activity.

So in the short term, BTC-e scammers do not appear to pose a threat, as they are only dumping smaller amounts of BTC again. Bitcoin price, meanwhile, is grappling with the crucial resistance at $16,000.

Bitcoin is facing crucial resistance at $16,600 in the 15-minute chart. Source: TradingView

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