The Global Online Virtual Assets Conference

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The Use of Crypto Increases Causing a Rapid Incline in Crypto Scams 

In 2021, cryptocurrency-based crime reached an all-time high, with unlawful addresses earning $14 billion, up from $7.8 billion in 2020. 

However, those statistics do not paint the complete story. The use of cryptocurrencies is increasing quicker than ever before. The total volume of transactions across all cryptocurrencies tracked climbed 567 percent from totals in 2020 to $15.8 trillion in 2021. Given cryptocurrency’s increasing acceptance, it’s no wonder that more scammers are using it. The fact that the increase was only 79 percent — nearly an order of magnitude lower than overall adoption — was perhaps the most startling.

Indeed, with legitimate cryptocurrency usage significantly outperforming criminal usage growth, unlawful activity’s percentage of bitcoin transaction volume has never been lower. AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, is attempting to assist vulnerable businesses. According to the CIA, ransomware attacks have increased by 15% in the last year. “Financial service providers need to be alert to the signs of criminal use of digital currencies, including their use in ransomware attacks,” says CEO Nicole Rose. AUSTRAC hopes to assist businesses in distinguishing between illicit activities and clients that use digital currencies for legitimate purposes.

The Regulatory Systems That Govern Them are Disorganized

Regardless of the fact that digital currencies have been around for a decade, the regulatory systems that govern them are disorganized, ineffective, and, in some cases, non-existent. This enables illegal operations to flourish, ranging from fraudulent Bitcoin dealers who disappear with your money to terrorism financing and international money laundering.

Because digital currencies are the unavoidable future, international cooperation and individual country action are essential to close the legal gaps that enable cryptocurrency crime to thrive. Absa recently hosted a webinar in partnership with the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council and the Financial Action Task Force, in which financial and regulatory officials from around the world discussed digital assets and the money-laundering risks they pose (FATF).

The problem for regulators all over the world is to put in place enough regulatory tools to deal with the risks connected with rising bitcoin use. Existing regulatory tools have limits in combating consumer and financial crime, as well as money laundering issues. This has intensified regulatory attention to cryptocurrencies, as money launderers have turned to digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Ripple to “payout” their earnings, rapidly and anonymously bouncing transactions around the world.

Over 10,000 allegations of bitcoin scams were received by Australia’s scam watchdog last year, with losses totaling more than $129 million. Criminals are increasingly suspected to be using cryptocurrencies and NFTs to commit international crimes. The United States Secret Service is also keeping a careful eye on criminal activities in the sector. A Texas man pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering earlier this month. He received a 46-month sentence in federal prison.

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    The Global Online Virtual Assets Conference 

    LYON, FRENCH REPUBLIC – A global online virtual assets conference closed with a call to strengthen cryptocurrency crime investigations by increasing multi-sector cooperation to protect the world’s financial institutions. The Basel Institute virtually sponsored the 5th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies, which was co-organized by INTERPOL, Europol, and the Basel Institute on Governance.

    The two-day event (7-8 December) brought together over 3,000 participants from 130 countries from law enforcement, the public and private sectors, governmental organizations, and academics to discuss trends, strategies, and tactics for combating crimes involving virtual assets.

    Delegates focused on building law enforcement tools, skill sets, expertise, and resources to prevent blockchain, bitcoin, and other virtual currencies from being exploited to launder illegally obtained assets. Discussions focused on the rapidly growing fields of decentralized finance and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), legal developments influencing anti-money laundering compliance, crypto-enabled fraud, and governments’ ability to retrieve illicit assets even if they are virtual.

    On day second of the conference, which was constrained to law enforcement circles, presenters shared their stories in national and regional cryptocurrency investigations, illustrating innovative techniques for investigating criminal flows and operations in dark markets and decentralized money laundering scams.

    The Critical Significance of A Clear Worldwide Regulatory Framework

    Panelists emphasized the critical significance of a clear, harmonized worldwide regulatory framework for preventing money laundering. 

    The conferences concluded with the adoption of a series of proposals to improve illegal asset investigations by strengthening skill sets, improving knowledge, increasing expertise, and encouraging best practices.

    We must collaborate to keep virtual assets from becoming safe havens for illegal financial operations, according to Ilana de Wild, INTERPOL’s Director of Organized and Emerging Crime.

    “Protecting citizens and the global economy from the exploitation of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets is a task that requires concerted and sustained action by law enforcement working hand in hand with government authorities, regulators, and the corporate sector,” Director de Wild added.

    The annual conference is held by the Working Group on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies, a tripartite initiative founded in 2016 by the Basel Institute on Governance, INTERPOL, and Europol. With the introduction of a new Financial Crimes Directorate in January 2022, INTERPOL is strengthening the support services it provides to police forces in its 195-member nations in order to help their national efforts to combat financial crime.

    As more ordinary people buy cryptocurrencies and institutional investors incorporate them into their portfolios, they raise important challenges about financial stability and combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

    When it comes to combatting these crimes, authorities must work with technical experts to guarantee that their laws keep up with technological advances. Furthermore, regulators must plan ahead and design regulations that are appropriate for their purpose rather than seeking to prevent the unavoidable.

    Furthermore, coordination is required since digital assets require regulation through international cooperation, local enforcement, and organizations that are technologically capable of keeping up with these rapid changes.

    The Global Payback can give you insights about Online Virtual Assets which is about claims of scams, and so much more.



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