EUROPOL: Cryptocurrencies Facilitate Payments for All Forms of Cybercrime

EUROPOL: Cryptocurrencies Facilitate Payments for All Forms of Cybercrime
IOCTA, which focuses on evolving cybercrime threats, has published a new extensive report and also mentions cryptocurrencies.

EUROPOL and its strategic product IOCTA increases cybercrime surveillance and brings a new report for 2020. In the report, which has more than 60 pages, Europol also paid attention to cryptocurrencies. Here are the most important findings.

IOCTA sees the biggest problem in cryptocurrencies to facilitate payments for all forms of cybercrime. The main advantages of criminals using cryptocurrencies for payments are: reliability, irreversibility of the transaction, the degree of anonymity, and because of these characteristics, cryptocurrencies have become their default payment method. The place where these criminal groups are most concentrated is still in the Darkweb.

EUROPOL also points out that in recent years there has been an increase in extortion spam, which is to scare the victim and promise a devastating event if they do not get paid in the cryptocurrency. One of the popular methods is also sextortion, data theft, which has recently been mainly related to COVID-19. According to a recent study analyzing a subset of 4 million intercepted sextortion emails, 12,500 bitcoin addresses were obtained and 245 received at least one or more payments.

However, criminals do not only target ordinary users but mainly corporate wallets. The evidence is seen in the statistics from 2019, which claims that there were 10 publicly confirmed hacks of exchanges where criminals stole cryptocurrencies to the value of € 240 million. Although the number of hacker attacks was higher in 2019, the total amount stolen decreased compared to the previous year, in 2018 criminals stole a total of € 950 million.

In terms of legislation, the most important legislative development in Europe was the transposition of the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. Under the Directive, crypto exchanges and wallet providers are obliged to identify their clients, and many of them have introduced know-your-customer (KYC) measures.

Finally, EUROPOL adds that it expects the investigation of cryptocurrencies to be more demanding due to the large numberof these investigations. These investigations mainly concern centralized and decentralized mixing services, privacy coins, exchanges with insufficient KYC requirements, or even clandestine over-the-counter trading.

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