Australian law enforcement agents are claiming that crypto has become the number one go-to tool for those looking to commit money laundering or financial fraud.
Australian Authorities Issue Crypto Warning
Senior executives of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) claim crypto has become part of the “money laundering tool kit,” and that using digital currency technology to sneak and hide funds from prying eyes has become standard behavior in the world of criminality. John Moss – head of the Australian agency – claimed in a recent interview:
We are now seeing more traditional money laundering being displaced into cryptocurrency, particularly to send money offshore.
Not long ago, Chainalysis – a blockchain analysis firm – said that approximately $2.2 million in crypto has been sent over this year alone to Russian paramilitary groups, and that the money is being used to purchase weapons and other items to fund and boost Russia’s side of the war. Moss explained:
This shows how easy it is to use crypto as a fundraising source, and when you mix it with social media, you get a big reach. You’ve got a technology that’s easy to use, and if you’re flexible in the type of cryptos you take, you can do quite well out of it.
Michael Tink – the national manager of intelligence operations at AUSTRAC – also threw his two cents into the mix, commenting:
We have seen evidence of Australians sending money to offshore cryptocurrency accounts linked to al-Qaida [and] ISIL, and this is largely organizational support for travel, training, the salaries of fighters, and uniforms. It doesn’t take a lot of money to have an impact on a terrorist organization in a conflict zone, and small amounts of money can buy weapons and result in attacks, so it’s still a significant risk.
In addition, it’s being said that many of these criminals and potential warmongers are using digital currency ATMs to get their hands on funds. Moss is concerned that these machines could eventually give way to a crime web that spreads across the globe. He said:
These machines are not seen in places like the UK. When you look at the reporting, you see lots of fraud victims. Very vulnerable people put large amounts of cash into these ATMs, which is essentially immediately gone offshore.
ATMs Are Often Looked To
Tink also said that ATMs are often the first method of converting crypto into cash so that illicit purchases and deals can be made. He mentioned:
One of the key vulnerabilities for a crime group laundering money is the placement stage of the money-laundering cycle, so that’s trying to get cash into cryptocurrency. [These ATMs] are a good way to do that. There is a perception that if you are putting money through a hole in the wall, or a box in a shopping center, that it will be more anonymous.