- An independent researcher has noticed the movement of 12,000 bitcoin out of a wallet associated with the Asian PlusToken scam.
- The thieves appear to be breaking up the funds in an attempt to cash out via various online laundering methods.
- Some claim that a sharp drop in the bitcoin price is looming; however, the scammers will have a hard time liquidating all of their bitcoin at once.
Dormant funds from the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme PlusToken are on the move. Chiachih Wu, a researcher at PeckShield, has been tracking the wallet addresses associated with the scammers.
According to Wi, Only 12,000 of the more than 200,000 bitcoin stolen from investors is moving; however, that minor 16.6% share still represents a little under $125 million.
Chainalysis reported last year that the scammers had made off with approximately $3 billion worth of cryptocurrency.
Coins across the board have rallied significantly since then making the loot an even juicier prospect
Double-Edged Sword for Bitcoin
Even though six individuals were arrested last June, this latest transfer suggests that either some scammers are still at large or are using handlers to move their funds.
One resourceful Redditor points out that over 100 wallets are being used to launder the bitcoin.
It seems a programmed transaction since all 7 new utxos are split into smaller parts (100~400 #BTC) in the same block … will be gone soon.
— Chiachih Wu (@chiachih_wu) February 11, 2020
This particular fraud highlights the trouble with a highly censorship-resistance currency like bitcoin. On the one hand, BTC cannot be captured by corrupt regimes.
But on the other, it also makes recovering the stolen money a highly improbable task. For the launderers, getting the crypto is the easy part, cashing out is not.
Exchanges typically flag large balances, which is why the thieves are breaking up the funds to cash out via OTC brokers, mixers, and any unregulated exchanges that will work with them.
What Will the Effect on Price Be?
It’s hard to tell at this early stage. If the scammers were able to dump as many coins as they wanted on an exchange, the drop in price would be dramatic.
The same Redditor mentioned above speculates that their previous laundering antics was the cause of a $2,000 drop in price:
I expect these BTC to be deposited on exchanges like Huobi or Binance and sold for usdt. This will have a downward pressure on the price of bitcoin, the last time they dumped a large portion of bitcoin the price dropped from 8k to 6k in a few days.
There is no conclusive evidence of this, though. With a lot more eyes tracking the suspicious wallets, it’s going to make massive dumping of bitcoin for fiat an incredibly difficult task.