A Spanish judge has connected the infamous hacker Denis Tokarenko, also known by his alias Denis Katana, with a Russian crime syndicate that allegedly laundered money using Bitcoin (BTC).
El Español reported that this crime group, based in the southeastern region of Alicante in Spain, opted for cryptocurrency, believing it to be less subject to governmental oversight.
Hints of Tokarenko’s role as the “Bitcoin czar” had previously surfaced in the Pandora Papers, a massive leak of 12 million documents unveiling the secretive financial dealings of world leaders, renowned personalities, and the uber-wealthy. These documents, made public in 2021 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, shed light on various covert operations, including tax dodging, money laundering, and concealed assets.
Law enforcement officials have identified Maxim Khakimov, a Russian businessman, as the individual who brought Denis Tokarenko on board to aid the criminal group’s money laundering operations.
Khakimov utilized advanced financial strategies to facilitate fund transfers to and from Russian clients situated in Spain.
The overseeing judge in this case emphasized Tokarenko’s role as a “cyber aide.” He advised Khakimov on acquiring Bitcoin and leveraging it to mask the syndicate’s monetary activities.
Apart from their unlawful dealings, Tokarenko and Khakimov shared a bond that went beyond just professional ties.
Upon Tokarenko’s arrest in 2018, Spanish officials allege that Khakimov, with the help of his attorney, funneled money to support Tokarenko during his incarceration.
Furthermore, it’s purported that they played a role in overseeing Tokarenko’s investments. Disturbingly, they are also believed to have enlisted hitmen to address outstanding debts that had accrued over time.
Katana Gained Fame as Cybercriminal
Katana has earned a notorious reputation in the cybercrime world.
In 2018, he first came under the radar for his role in an intricate software attack targeting ATMs globally.
Operating remotely from his residence, Katana was adept at manipulating ATMs to involuntarily release cash to collaborators, often referred to as “mules.”
The illicitly procured money was then laundered through several channels, Bitcoin being one of them.
Further cementing Katana’s ties to Bitcoin is his linkage to several Bitcoin wallets. Reports suggest he amassed a staggering sum, surpassing 15,000 Bitcoin.
The judge’s recent remarks specifically highlighted a single cryptocurrency wallet holding 5,000 Bitcoin, which was valued around 55 million euros during the timeframe of the illicit activities.
The world of cryptocurrency has been riddled with a string of breaches and fraudulent schemes, especially pronounced in the third quarter of 2023.
A study by the blockchain security firm Immunefi pointed out that in Q3 2023, 76 hacks targeted crypto and Web3 entities, marking a stark rise from the 30 incidents reported in the corresponding quarter of 2022.
Collectively, a staggering $332 million went astray due to different hacks, breaches, and deceitful activities by the end of September, setting a new monthly record for cryptocurrency exploitations.