Unfortunately, the days of Bitcoin being used for illicit purposes are still not completely behind us. In South Africa, a businessman was kidnaped and the ransom was set at 50 BTC. This isn’t the first case of businessmen and women being kidnapped and ransomed for Bitcoin in the country. Sadly, incidents like this are starting to become more commonplace. The kidnappers clearly believe that Bitcoin is private and their transactions cannot be traced. However, thanks to its public record, every transaction made with Bitcoin can be traced. The kidnappers clearly don’t know much about cryptocurrencies and believe most of the common crypto misconceptions. Thankfully the ransom was paid in full and the businessman was released unharmed.
Bitcoin Isn’t Anonymous
Transactions made with Bitcoin are not totally secret, in fact the DEA wants more people to use Bitcoin for illicit purposes as it’s easier to catch them. If you know the address where the money was sent, it can then be digitally traced to an exchange where the authorities can pull know your customer (KYC) data, or back to an online store where the address of the customer can be recovered. Even the most secure and private coins can still be traced back to the owner of the coins according to the DEA.
Crypto Crimes Climbing
As more people start to learn about the world of cryptocurrencies, more start to use them for illegal purposes. Unfortunately, one of the main issues with mass adoption is that criminals also adopt them. The FBI revealed that it’s currently investigating 130 on-going crypto crime related cases, with thousands more waiting to be investigated.
It isn’t just the FBI tackling crypto related crimes either. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have been hard at work shutting down crypto related scams. Just this month, the two agencies put a stop to a crypto hedge fund scam and jailed Homero Joshua Garza – the man behind the GAW Miners Ponzi scheme – for 21 months.
Specialist Crypto Courts
In order to handle the influx of crypto and blockchain related crimes, China has set up special crypto courts. In these courts, evidence verified by a blockchain is now admissible and can contribute to the conviction of a criminal. For a country that currently has an anti-crypto stance, it’s a big step forward.
While cryptos are being used in awful cases of kidnapping, they make it easier than ever before to successfully save the person and track down the criminals responsible. As more regulations – such as KYC – fall into place around the world, crimes will be harder to commit using cryptos, or at least that’s the idea.