Addresses associated with PlusToken have been linked to the trail of around 54,000 BTC. Research suggests that two methods were used to mix bitcoins.
A study shows how addresses previously associated with PlusToken, accused of stealing millions of US dollars in various cryptocurrencies, have tried to erase the trail of bitcoins stolen from their victims.
The research published by the user ErgoBTC suggests that PlusToken would have used wallet transaction mixers such as Wasabi, as well as the Huobi exchange platform, to gradually clean the trail of those bitcoins.
According to the text, an institution related to PlusToken tried to mix more than 50,000 BTC between early August and mid-September. To that end, they used the Wasabi mixer from at least five different Bitcoin addresses.
The text indicates the reception of large transactions of at least 3,000 BTC in the same address, and attempts to fork the funds with transactions of between 500 and 6,000 BTC. In addition to Wasabi, those addresses sent high amounts of BTC using Samourai Wallet, according to the article.
The mixing (or shuffling) process is used to increase the privacy of transactions. Basically, its function is to gradually obscure the trail of such transactions. Transaction inputs cannot be easily linked to their corresponding outputs.
Several Methods to Mix Bitcoins
Normally, this process is executed by third parties at the service of the party interested in blurring the trail of their transactions. This is done through Wasabi and sendings to the Huobi exchange, which was previously used by addresses allegedly linked to PlusToken.
The researcher also found attempted “self-shufflings,” which might be deficient to hide transactions and would facilitate the tracking of the origin of the funds that were sought to be hidden. The study determines that this method was aimed at mixing about 35,000 BTC, equivalent to about USD 315 million.
In total, the movement between the two methods mentioned was 54,000 BTC. However, this author referred to another 20,000 BTC “in addresses and clusters associated with this analysis, which have not moved since mid-September.”
Last July, founding members of PlusToken were arrested and charged with fraud through their cryptocurrency investment scheme. Among those cryptocurrencies is not only Bitcoin, since the firm’s customers also invested high amounts of Ether (ETH), XRP and EOS.
According to police reports, the company’s proceeds after the arrest would have exceeded USD 3 billion. However, it is not clear what the equivalent figure in cryptocurrencies is, due to the price changes on the market.
A study published in August by Elementus dealt with 10,000,000 ETH stolen from the victims of PlusToken. In that research, the Huobi exchange was also raised as initially received funds would have been allocated there due to the alleged scam.
The same month, the founder of Primitive Ventures and researcher of the Chinese blockchain ecosystem, Dovey Wan, provided data on movements of thousands of bitcoins from addresses associated with PlusToken.
She revealed that some of those addresses were trying to discard their BTC. Among those addresses are some with 95,000, 68,000 or 38,000 BTC each. According to the researcher, all of them were emptying the funds in multiple transactions for several days.
Their data coincided with the dates provided by PeckShield. According to this company, PlusToken would have used Bittrex, in addition to Huobi, for the alleged sending of stolen bitcoins.
By Willmen Blanco