- Finnish authorities allegedly traced Monero transactions from the Vastaamo hacker who demanded Bitcoin ransom from a psychotherapy provider and then targeted patients.
- The hacker purportedly received Bitcoin ransom, swapped it for Monero, and sent it to Binance to exchange back to Bitcoin in an attempt to conceal the trail.
- Authorities claim they tracked the hacker’s use of privacy coin Monero, highlighting concerns about the untraceability of anonymous cryptocurrencies like Monero used in criminal activity.
In October 2022, a hacker demanded Bitcoin ransom from a Finnish psychotherapy service provider. When it wasn’t paid, he allegedly targeted individual patients for payments. The hacker tried to cover his tracks using privacy coin Monero, but authorities claim they tracked the transactions.
The Ransom Demand
A hacker allegedly gained access to a database of over 33,000 patient records from Finnish psychotherapy service Vastaamo. In October 2022, he demanded 40 Bitcoin (around 450,000 euros at the time) not to publish the data. When Vastaamo didn’t pay, the hacker reportedly proceeded to contact patients individually and demand smaller ransoms.
The Crypto Trail
According to prosecutors, the hacker received ransom payments in Bitcoin. He then sent the Bitcoin through a non-KYC exchange, swapped it for Monero, and transferred it to a Monero wallet. Monero is known for strong privacy features like stealth addresses and ring signatures that conceal transaction sources and sender identities.
Authorities claim the hacker later sent the Monero to Binance, exchanged it back to Bitcoin, and moved it to different wallets. They say they have traced this crypto trail to identify the perpetrator, but have not disclosed details. The accused is Julius Aleksanteri Kivimäki, who is currently facing trial.
Privacy Coins Under Scrutiny
Monero claims transactions on its blockchain are “untraceable.” However, authorities and researchers have warned that privacy coins can anonymize criminal activity. France has proposed banning anonymous cryptos like Monero. The IRS once offered bounties for anyone who could break Monero’s privacy. While difficult, blockchain analysis can supposedly trace some historic Monero transactions. This Finnish case suggests privacy coins are not always as untraceable as claimed.