Despite all the legitimate activities that take place within the crypto market, there is the use of tokens such as Bitcoin for the perpetuation of illegal activities that take place across the world and these are being cracked down by law enforcement on a daily basis.
One of the latest crackdowns was by the Spanish police who arrested 35 people who are involved in an international counterfeit bank card rin that made use of bitcoin to launder their illegally gotten profits. According to reports, the criminals made more $700,000 and laundered more than $891,000. The criminal ring consisted of a number of individuals from countries such as Spain, Nigeria, Cameroon, Morocco, and Equatorial Guinea.
It is estimated that they are victims were roughly 210 in number in Spain and 20 in Israel, Denmark, Germany, France, and Greece. Their primary method of operation was through fraudulent bank cards of which 104 were made in Spain and 12 were made in other countries. What sparked the investigation was a car rental company in Spain who reported the use of a fraudulent card.
How The Crimes Took Place
These criminal activities made use of a popular and well-known tactic which was phishing in order to gain credit card details and credentials or their various victims. They also made use of skimming in order to copy the magnetic strips of various cards in order to create fake copies of them. Finally, another method that was used was the bin attack fraud in which new card numbers were generated based on existing card numbers.
After these fraudulent cards were developed, they were used to pay for various items such as hotel stays, airline flights, train tickets, and tech. The criminals also took care to cover their tracks as they laundered their ill-gotten funds through bitcoins by making use of an unnamed company is based in Finland, Estonia, and the UK. Money transfer services were also used to launder the money in the US, Equatorial Guinea, and Benin.
Bitcoin And The Criminal Market
The prevalence of these activities is rather unfortunate and does a disservice to the industry as it casts it in a bad light and perpetuates the belief that cryptocurrency is nothing but a scam industry that is used to perpetrate crimes.
It is not unusual in any sense for criminals to convert their ill-gotten gains to bitcoin as a means to launder. However, due to the developments in exchange technology and in the cryptocurrency industry in general, tokens can be tracked much more easily and the such, stolen or ill-gotten funds are better able to be traced to the criminals.
This was evident earlier this year when cryptocurrency that was acquired through an exchange hack was found on binance and immediately frozen as part of an investigation. This means that crypto changes can aid criminal investigations in the future in order to prevent further crimes.
There is also the issue of privacy coins such as Monero that have been used for criminal activities which have brought another layer of complexity into the relationship between cryptocurrency and the criminal market. Because such tokens cannot be tracked, they have become a tool of choice for kidnappers and other extortionists who wish to cover their tracks after exploiting their victims.