The crypto industry is still in its infancy and the space remains highly unregulated. The decentralized nature of the technology isn’t something that the regulators are fond of. While the technology itself has gained massive popularity with the stories of people becoming “Crypto rich” overnight, cryptocurrencies are still looked down upon due to the various ties with illicit activities.
The number of platforms allowing users to buy and sell these digital tokens has grown substantially, but illegal market places continue to flourish. These services have been used time and again by criminals to launder money.
The most recent case is of an Australian woman who was recently arrested by the Sydney police for illegally operating an unregistered exchange that has been acting as a money-laundering syndicate since 2017.
According to a report by Daily Mail Australia, the 52-year old Australian woman was arrested with AU$60,000 in cash, 3.8 BTC (worth $37,000 at current prices) and a mobile phone. Upon further investigation of a unit in Hurstville, the police found multiple mobile phones, computers and hardware wallets and AU$18,200 worth of Bitcoin.
Local authorities stated that they have been actively investigating this case since 2018, and they claim that the syndicate has been in operation since 2017. The woman is believed to have laundered AU$5 million ($3.23 million) worth of Bitcoin till date.
Detective Superintendent Matt Craft, Cybercrime Squad commander commented:
“This is the first arrest executed by Cybercrime Squad detectives relating to non-compliant digital currency providers in New South Wales — and is believed to be the first of its kind across Australia.”
“It is concerning that when this kind of online exchange goes unregulated, it can allow criminals to move currency and launder funds seemingly undetected,” Craft added.
The accused has been charged with three counts of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime and breaching digital currency exchange service requirements. She’s set to go on trial on July 20.
Crypto-related crimes on the rise
The continuing growth of illegal transactions demonstrates the problems Cryptocurrencies has had in moving past its reputation as a tool frequently used in criminal activities, even as Wall Street institutions have begun buying and selling the digital tokens.
The total value of cryptocurrency used in darknet transactions for buying and selling illegal goods and services has shot up 60 percent to reach new highs of $601 million in the last quarter of 2019 according to crypto data analysis firm Chainalysis.
Crypto scams and fraudulent activities have also been tormenting the crypto industry over the past years. As reported by The Daily Chain, Two firms involved in a crypto scam were fined $15 million by the CFTC earlier this month.
Last year, a $722 million crypto Ponzi scheme involving fake bitcoin mining pools was exposed. The victims were under the impression that they had purchased shares in crypto mining pools but were actually duped.