Patrick O’Neill, a journalist at CyberScoopNews, has claimed that since August 3rd, ShapeShift has been helping law enforcement to trace bitcoin transactions between WannaCry ransomware distributors and developers. The reason behind ShapeShift’s involvement in the investigation is that Bitcoin withdrawn for the ransomware were exchanged for Monero on this platform.
While speaking with O’Neil, Alberti Ornaghi, the chief technology officer at Neutrino, stated that $20,000 was withdrawn from a bitcoin wallet that was linked with the WannaCry ransomware. ShapeShift got alerted almost immediately as the funds moved and the company’s legal team announced that by using their platform WannaCry distributors have breached their terms of services. The team also emphasized upon cooperating with the law enforcement for tracking the transactions made by the ransomware distributors.
ShapeShift is the most popular and recognized instant digital asset exchange service in the cryptocurrency industry. It is also believed to be the most efficient private exchange that facilitates altcoins or alternative cryptocurrencies since it doesn’t require users to present personal or financial information while using ShapeShift for digital trading currencies.
In an official statement, ShapeShift’s team stated that the company has already taken necessary steps to “blacklist” all the addresses that the team believes are linked with the WannaCry attackers. The statement read:
“As is our policy for any transactions we deem breach our terms of service. We are closely watching the situation as it continues to unfold as to block any further addresses associated.”
Various Bitcoin experts, privacy advocates like TDevD and Samourai Wallet developer Crud have criticized ShapeShift’s decision to cooperate with the law enforcement and create blacklists on a service that inherently is privacy-oriented. Crud said:
— TDevD aka "Crud", [No BC.i][No KYC] (@SamouraiDev) August 4, 2017
Conversely, some claim that the decision is ironic and hypocritical because ShapeShift is among the few companies that stopped their services in New York State when BitLicense was implemented. BitLicense required cryptocurrency firms to integrate Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems.
It is indeed true that ShapeShift took a difficult decision. Eric Voorhees, the team head at ShapeShift, tried to offer privacy and financial autonomy to users since the time the service was launched. But, Voorhees cannot be blamed for the decision because if ShapeShift hadn’t agreed to cooperate, there would have been a legal conflict between the law enforcement and ShapeShift. However, ShapeShift has revealed that the service ensures “100 percent transparent” transactions, which makes money laundering of “digital tokens impossible.”
Until now it isn’t clear if the team at ShapeShift and law enforcement can trace down the Monero transactions because the cryptocurrency used to launder the funds from WannaCry ransomware are characteristically anonymous.
“You cannot track a Monero address. You cannot even check the balance or when the address is used to move the funds. Monero hides both ends of a transaction as well as the amount” said Ornaghi.