Europol cites Wasabi, Samourai bitcoin wallet use for Darkweb transaction mixing

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A new report from Europol cited two bitcoin wallet services — Wasabi and Samourai — as transacting tools that are seeing increasing use among Darkweb actors.

The details were included in Europol's Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment, which was published on October 5, which touched on several topics related to cryptocurrency.

But one notable area was the use of Wasabi and Samourai — both of which are publicly positioned as privacy-enhancing tools for bitcoin users — by criminal entities. In July, Elliptic reported that some of the funds accrued during the Twitter account hijackings were routing through Wasabi.

The ability to "mix" coins refers to services and tools that seek to obfuscate the original source of cryptocurrency funds. With a CoinJoin, users combine their funds with those of others in a single transaction to make on-chain analysis more difficult to accomplish.

"There has been an increase in the use of privacy enhanced cryptocurrencies and an emergence of privacy-enhanced coinjoin concepts, such as Wasabi and Samurai[sic]," the report's authors noted, who wrote in a later section:

"These wallets do not necessarily remove the link between the origin and destination of the funds but certainly make cryptocurrency tracing much more challenging. Some administrators of underground markets are trying to apply these wallets to their payment systems. Threat actors have also been witnessed increasingly using hardware wallets, a separate physical device, which securely store seeds and private keys for a wide range of cryptocurrencies."

The report also touched on the use of privacy-focused cryptocurrencies on the Dark Web, particularly Monero (though it stresses that bitcoin continues to be the most commonly utilized coin).

"An increasing number of markets are recognising the benefits of offering multiple coin alternatives, including Litecoin, Ethereum, Monero, Zcash, and Dash," the authors note, adding:

"Monero is gradually becoming the most established privacy coin for Darkweb transactions, followed by Zcash and Dash. All these privacy coins may present a considerable obstacle to law enforcement investigations, despite the competing altcoin communities uncritically favouring their implementation over the others."

Editor's Note: This report has been updated to reflect the proper spelling of the Samourai bitcoin wallet software.

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