Bitcoin is leading to a huge upsurge of money laundering, new research says

Cyber criminal proceeds make up an estimated 8 to 10 percent of the total illegal profits of crops worldwide, according to research released by Bromine.


Cyber criminals focus on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to transform illegal income into clean cash, new research shows.

Cyber criminal proceeds make up an estimated 8 to 10 percent of the total illegal profits of crops worldwide, according to research released by Bromine, a cybersecurity company. The share of the illegal profits amounted to an estimated $ 80 billion to $200 billion per year.

The findings were Friday announced, as part of a larger nine-month study sponsored by Bromine.

It’s been relatively easy for criminals to “wash money, and convert it into cash,” and the emergence of non-regulated cryptocurrencies accelerates this trend, said Gregory Webb, CEO of Bromine, in a statement.


“It is no surprise to see cybercriminals using virtual currencies for money laundering,” the report said of the author, Dr. Mike McGuire, senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Surrey.

“The appeal is clear. It is digital, so it is an easy convertible way of the acquisition and the transfer of cyber-crime revenue,” McGuire said in a statement.

Home purchases are becoming a popular target for criminals using virtual currency. This enables them to convert illegal proceeds into legitimate funds and assets, the study added.

Websites such as Bitcoin Real Estate “offer everything from penthouse suites and luxurious mansions, 160-acre private islands, with the option to buy with bitcoins,” the study said.

Properties bought with the cryptocurrency are not as well researched as cash purchases. Cryptocurrencies are not regulated by central banks or governments, but increased scrutiny is placed on them, with Facebook, Twitter and Google prohibit cryptocurrency-related ads.

Approximately 25 percent of the total real estate sales are predicted to be in cryptocurrency in the coming years, the study found. This worries the financial analysts, because it allows faster, more secret transactions. “Many with criminal origins [that] could disrupt global property markets,” the study noted.

But if justice monitor Bitcoin more closely, criminals are changing tactics. “Law enforcement agencies are now monitoring the implementation of Bitcoin, which many cyber criminals to look for alternatives,” the study said.

“Information about bitcoin transactions can leak during the web transactions, usually via web trackers and cookies. This means that the connecting transactions to persons is possible in up to 60 percent of Bitcoin payments,” the study added.


As a result, digital currency platforms such as Monero more and more grip. Platforms such as Monero are designed to be truly anonymous, and other services such as CoinJoin can obscure transaction origin.

The report also cites the conversion of the “stolen income” in the video game currency or in-game items, such as gold, which are then converted into bitcoin or other electronic formats.

The study lists video games such as “Minecraft” “FIFA” “World of Warcraft, “” Final Fantasy,” “Star Wars Online” and “GTA 5,” which “are some of the most popular options because they allow secret interaction with other players which allows the trade of the currency and property,” according to the research.

“Gaming currencies and items which can be converted and moved across the borders is an attractive prospect for cyber criminals,” McGuire said in the statement. “This trend seems to be, especially in countries like South Korea and China – with the South Korean police to the arrest of a gang of transfer of $38 million crops in Korean games, back to China.”

The full results will be presented at the RSA Conference in April.
















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