Crypto Increasingly Used In Human/Drug Trafficking Says GAO

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The Government Accountability Office has said in a new report that virtual currencies are increasingly being used in human and drug trafficking.

“The unknown characteristics of virtual currency may attract the use of criminals to evade detection when paying for illegal activities such as human and drug trafficking,” the Congressional investigative arm stressed.

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As evidence of the increase, the GAO points to a five-fold increase in the number of suspicious activity reports filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), from 252 in 2017 to approximately 1,432 virtual currency and narcotics transactions in 2020. smuggling is involved.

The study also cited 2020 data from Polaris, a non-profit organization knowledgeable about human trafficking, that the virtual currency was the second most accepted payment method across 40 platforms in the online commercial sex market – used to facilitate sex trafficking. has been done for.

Additionally, the GAO study notes that the Justice Department is concerned that virtual currency is increasingly being used to buy and sell illegal drugs on dark web marketplaces and that drug cartels are using them to launder their profits.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Unit of the Department of Homeland Security has estimated that 80 to 90 percent of dark web sales seen by their agency are related to illegal drugs and all are virtual currency transactions because other payment types are commonly accepted on dark web marketplaces. are not done.

Virtual currencies have also been central to the growth in sales of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. The Office of National Drug Control Policy has warned.

The authors of the GAO report claim that policy makers, regulators and law enforcement have identified virtual currency, human trafficking and drug trafficking as priority areas of concern, but warn that federal agencies have a higher risk of developing virtual currencies in virtual currencies. There may be a lack of complete data when assessing or reporting illegal use of. Human and drug trafficking.

The study concludes, “There are no reliable estimates of the number of trafficking victims in the United States or the money generated from this crime.”

Emerging technologies are being used by criminals to evade law enforcement, the GAO says, such as a decentralized exchange, where users can convert virtual currencies for other types of virtual currency or convert money into fiat currency. can.

To get a more accurate assessment of the scope of the problem, the GAO is calling on FinCEN and law enforcement agencies to review registration requirements for virtual currency kiosks, which can be used to exchange virtual currencies for cash in various locations, such as convenience stores. and to take appropriate action, as necessary, based on that review, to collect more complete information at individual kiosk locations, such as upon registration or renewal,

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