Crypto Scammers Have Created “KYC Actors” Black Market

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  • Crypto scammers are hiring KYC actors to get exchange accounts and hoodwink project investors
  • Individuals in developing countries charge around $20 to act for their services
  • Some projects hire KYC actors to front as CEOs

Crypto scammers have established a black market of KYC actors who help them open exchange and bank accounts and front fake projects. The underground market was uncovered by security firm Certik which posted a report on the matter yesterday having interviewed one of these individuals, and warned that “the existence of professional “KYC actors” illustrates how easy it is to escape accountability.”

“Easy and Cheap” to Fake KYC

Certik reported that it is “surprisingly cheap and easy” to get hold of a KYC actor, with their subject saying that “specialized marketplaces” had been established for the purpose of matching criminal clients with actors and rates of around $20 to $30 per deal.

The company looked into the activity on over 20 “over-the-counter (OTC) underground markets”, which are typically found on Telegram and Discord, although some are advertised on gig websites. Gigs typically include bypassing KYC compliance to open a bank or exchange account, but there are some that ask the individual to pose as team members on crypto projects, knowing that they will pass basic checks by token buyers or even seed investors.

Certik cites one example of a KYC actor pretending to be the CEO of a crypto project, for which he is paid up to $500 a week.

Some Groups Contain Up to 300,000 Members

Certik also revealed the scale of the issue, with groups dedicated to these deals containing up to 300,000 members, showing that this is a hugely vibrant market and one that it seems to be very hard to identify and tackle.

South East Asia is the primary geographic location where these services are offered, where the cost of living is much lower and people are more likely to engage in illegal services to get by.