As you may have heard, a group of Russian military intelligence officers were indicted last week as part of an ongoing operation to investigate the foreign interference in the US presidential elections in 2016. What you may not know is that they used Bitcoin as a to fund the operation.
The indictment was just released and the prosecutors affirmed that the 12 intelligence officers hacked computer networks and email accounts of the US Democratic Party including Hillary Clinton, former Democratic candidate for president.
$95,000 USD Laundered In Bitcoin
The details of the process state under a charge of conspiracy for money laundering that the officials conspired to launder about $95,000 USD via web transactions structured to keep anonymity using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
While they used many other currencies, including USD, the accused party used Bitcoin mainly to purchase servers and registered domains. They also used the tokens to pay for the hacking activity for third parties. The funds were mostly sent to American companies, one of them being a Bitcoin mining operation.
According to the documents, the team used many means to obscure the origin of the funds, including purchasing Bitcoin from exchanges, moving funds via other digital currencies and using pre-paid cards. They also used third-party exchanges in the process to keep their transactions anonymous.
Defendants Used The Same Computer For Trading Bitcoin And Hacking
All this effort, though, was useless, as the team was caught. The defendants used multiple dedicated email accounts and different tokens, but they made the transfers and hacked email accounts using the same computers.
This indictment is part of a long-going investigation that is becoming politically explosive, as the meddling of Russia in the election of the current president, Donald Trump, may or may not have involvement of people from the presidential campaign committee.
A former FBI director, Robert Mueller, was brought back especially for this case, which has drawn the ire of Trump, who has denied in several occasions any foreign aid in the election.