Ten arrested in major Dark Web, Bitcoin investigation
On Tuesday the investigative department of the tax authorities FIOD raided 15 addresses and arrested 10 suspects in a large-scale investigation into Bitcoin payments made and received for criminal products and services over the so-called Dark Web, the Public Prosecutor announced. The Dark Web is a part of the internet used by the criminal world to offer goods or services paid for by bitcoins through sites such as Silk Road. It is difficult to access for the average internet user as it can not be found by conventional search engines. According to the Public Prosecutor, the investigation was initiated after information from banks about large amounts of money being paid over and always withdrawn as cash a short time later. During the investigation, several suspects were identified. All suspects fell into one of two categories - criminal "traders" on the Dark Web and "bitcoin-cashers" who are paid by these traders to exchange bitcoins for cash. The bitcoin-cashers are considered the main suspects in this investigation. All 10 arrested suspects are suspected of money laundering. The prosecutor believes that many millions of euros are involved in this investigation. The raids were done in Rotterdam, Zoetermeer, Almere, Dordrecht, Zaandijk, Schiedam, 's-Gravenhage and Putten. Luxury cars, cash, bank accounts and raw materials used to manufacture ecstasy were seized. The FIOD also seized bitcoin accounts through rogatory letters to the United States, Australia, Lithuania and Morocco. According to the Prosecutor, bitcoin trade is an attractive method for criminals to launder dirty money as it is unregulated. "However, the investigation showed that the Dark Web does not guarantee anonymity and that the FIOD can also do the detective work. FIOD and Public Prosecutor will share their findings with the Authority for Financial Markets and the Dutch Banking Association", the Prosecutor said in a statement.