Vastaamo is a psychotherapy services provider in Finland that has gained attention in the region on account of its involvement in a ransomware case. As per media reports, the mental health services provider was subjected to a cybersecurity attack recently.
The attackers hacked into the database of the mental health institution and demanded cryptocurrency ransom payments with a threat to make the details of the database public. On this account, the National Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the matter.
Hackers Demand 40 Bitcoin as Extortion Money
The federal investigators have traced back the hack attempt to Julius Aleksanteri Kivimaki. As per the prosecutors, the hackers demanded around 40 Bitcoin as extortion money for not publishing the records of 33K patients from the Vastaamo. Upon not receiving the ransom payments, Kivimaki started to target individual patients as per allegations.
Vastaamo Hack Attempt
As per the lawsuit against Kivimaki, the hacker was targeting individual patients to send them payments in the form of Bitcoin. The hacker purportedly directed his victims to transfer the extortion funds via different trading platforms that were not regulated or incorporated Know Your Customer (KYC) checks.
In this manner, the hacker was able to convert the ransom payments into Monero (XMR) and transferred his reserves to a dedicated XMR wallet.
Local media reports also noted that these funds were then transferred to Binance to convert XMR into Bitcoin once again. From there the hackers sent his Bitcoin reserves into various different wallet accounts.
Based on this news, law enforcement authorities continue to maintain confidentiality and have not disclosed any further details about the on-chain analytics of the hack attempt. Monero is one of the most popular privacy cryptocurrencies that removes traceability by incorporating features such as stealth addresses and RCT.
French Finance Committee Proposes a Complete Ban on Anonymous Cryptocurrencies
In March 2019, Eric Woerth the head of the Finance Committee at the French National Assembly proposed a complete ban on privacy tokens inclusive of Monero. Woerth argued that privacy coins allow threat actors to circumvent legal obligations, avoid accountability, and bypass identity verification.
The law enforcement agencies in the United States are now zeroing in on XMR in terms of regulatory compliance. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced a bounty of $625K for programmers who have found a way to crack untraceable privacy coins or introduce a system to trace their transaction history.
There is still some research to suggest that it is possible to retrace privacy coins on blockchain networks including any activities taking place before 2017. Finland is also home to LocalBitcoins, a popular peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading platform that is based out of Helsinki.
The exchange platform was linked with darknet transactions. However, the firm reported in June 2023 that the trading volume associated with dark web platforms dropped by 70% after it adopted the AML and KYC regulations in September 2019.
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