James Aguilan | 25 July 2018
All millennials know that the smart way to buy drugs is with bitcoin. You can do it from the comfort of your own home, you might get a boatload of unearned capital appreciation along the way, and you're less likely to leave a paper trail that leaves you in jail. Cannabis startups such as Paragon and BudBo use blockchain tech to make it easier and more secure for suppliers to track their shipments. Meanwhile, on the dark web, traffickers of harder drugs are attracted to bitcoin's perceived anonymity.
Gambling to Launder Money
Money laundering is the 'washing of dirty money to make it clean'. Illegal online betting is much easier when money transfers can be made swiftly and untraceably. No more pay-outs postmarked from shady banks in other countries. Except now your crypto 'winnings' could fluctuate along with the volatile market. Bitcoin exchanges accounted for 45.4% of laundered Bitcoins, while gambling sites ranked second with 25.8%. Studies have referred to mixers and gambling sites as processing 'far and away the highest proportion of dirty bitcoins,' while justifying the significantly higher percentage of illicit transactions at cryptocurrency exchanges due to their handling 'much higher volumes' of overall crypto transactions.
As law enforcement grows increasingly adept at tracking Bitcoin transactions, federal investigators have seized some $5.1 million worth of Bitcoin in a fake-ID manufacturing ring operating on Reddit. District court in Ohio has charged Mark Simon of falsifying identification documents. Authorities seized the cryptocurrencies, along with computers, printers, as well as gold and silver bars inside the home of the alleged fake ID maker. Still, investigators didn't find the alleged ID-maker's trail using Bitcoin - but rather using Reddit. Simon was allegedly peddling his goods via Reddit - leaving a trail leading to a college student who told regulators that a friend bought a falsified ID using the site.
Scams, Sex and Violence
Anyone can hype the next bitcoin—including pump-and-dump groups. Coordinating on private messaging services, they pick a random token, promote the heck out of it anywhere they can, and then sell at the top, screwing gullible investors. These include fake bitcoin exchanges, ponzi schemes and Old school scams.
One of the big worries of law enforcement is the impact cryptocurrency is already having on the sex industry. Tony Talbott, interim executive director of the University of Dayton Human Rights Center, said bitcoin is used to purchase online sex ads on websites. Escorts, cam girls, and other sex workers now speak fluent crypto. At a club in Las Vegas, strippers accept tips in bitcoin, while PinkDate - the 'Tinder of escorting' - claims it sold 40 million tokens in a recent coin offering.
It's hard out there for bitcoin users, what with crypto robbers kidnapping them and demanding access to digital wallets. In the case of Katlego Marite, a South African teenager was kidnapped by unknown men demanding a $120,000 ransom in bitcoins while playing with two friends near his home in the eastern province of Mpumalanga.
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