French and Dutch police have boasted of infiltrating and killing off encrypted chat service EncroChat, alleging it was used by organised crime gangs to plot murders, sell drugs, launder criminal profits and more.
The encrypted chat platform is alleged by British, French and Dutch law enforcement agencies to have been used by around 60,000 people in total – many of whom, it is alleged, were members of organised crime gangs using the network to plan their crimes.
"Since 2017, the French gendarmerie and judicial authorities have been investigating phones that used the secured communication tool EncroChat, after discovering that the phones were regularly found in operations against organised crime groups and that the company was operating from servers in France," said EU law enforcement coordination body Eurojust in a statement.
This is what £1.4m looks like... as hauled in by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit. Pic credit: National Crime Agency
In May, police in France, assisted by the Netherlands' cops, infiltrated EncroChat's core network – and in mid-June the operator pulled the plug, having realised the game was up. Users were urged to throw away their handsets.
EncroChat was a reseller of encrypted phones as well as a mobile network operator – potentially an MVNO, if Motherboard's description of its operations is accurate. Its handsets, said to be BQ Aquaris X2 Android units running two OSes side by side – one innocent, one with privacy features enabled – had a custom messaging app which routed messages through a central server.
The phones also had a panic button feature, where entering a certain PIN to the ..