The agency revealed that the ISIS used Canada-based payment gateway CoinPayments to convert bitcoins to fiat money. The firm identified large scale transactions between the wallets that ISIS used to raise contributions and the bitcoin accounts held by CoinPayments.
Whitestream found that the balances in the payment company’s wallets surged from $500,000 to $4.5 million just one day before the Easter attacks. The firm added that the CoinPayments’ balances dropped back to $500,000 right after the deadly attacks took place. The payment company in question admitted that they had processed high-volume transactions. However, it denied having any knowledge about the money’s links with terrorist groups.
“CoinPayments admits that their wallet was involved but denied that it is connected to ISIS,” Whitestream told Globes. “It’s possible that the company is not aware of the usage of their wallets, perhaps because ISIS uses straw companies [to] transfer the money.”
The ISIS-Bitcoin Connection
Whitestream, founded by Itsik Levy and Uri Bornstein, confirmed that it was monitoring ISIS-linked bitcoin wallets from the past two years. The firm eventually maximized its focus on one bitcoin wallet that was receiving donations actively over different periods. It succeeded in verifying two transactions originated from the bitcoin wallet address listed on the ISIS fundraising website.
Levy said they were able to trace the transactions back to CoinPayments, indicating that the payment processing company knowingly/unknowingly was facilitating the ISIS funding campaign.
“Our assumption is that the terrorist organization probably possesses many bitcoin addresses through CoinPayments, with every donation sent to a different address,” Levy told Globes. “On the day before the Sri Lanka terror attacks, we identified two relatively big transactions at this address with bitcoins worth about $9,800.”
Whitestream in February had named CoinPayments for facilitating bitcoin-enabled donation campaigns for Hamas, a Palestine-based Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist group. Meanwhile, the firm believed that cryptocurrency-based payment and exchange companies were working in a largely unregulated environment. It was making it easier for terrorist organizations to exploit them for financing their attacks around the globe.
— whitestream – Blockchain Intelligence (@whitestream5) February 16, 2019
Whitestream works closely with Israel’s Ministry of Defense.