It’s another day, another connection between crypto-assets and the online criminal space. However, while people have been known to get reports about the same old crimes time and again, this is a rather interesting twist to the underground crime scene.
Earlier this month, Armor, a popular Security as a Service (SaaS) firm, published a report which revealed that cybercriminals on the Dark Web are now engaging in the sales of fiat cash for cents on the dollar to stay away from any discernible paper trail.
The report, which was prepared by the Threat Resistance Unit (TRU) of the security firm, revealed how hackers take these funds and transfer them to the accounts of their clients, thus getting cryptocurrencies in return. The practice has become rather popular over time, with Armor pointing out that it is now a key offering on the anonymous web region.
“There are plenty of hackers willing to simply transfer stolen funds to the bank account or PayPal account of your choice or send you the funds via Western Union.”
Primarily, the people who use the service will be able to leave the bargaining table with a sweet deal, as they could potentially get cash for their Bitcoins at about an 88 to 90 percent discount. So, a person who pays just $800 could walk away with a transfer of $10,000 into their cryptocurrency exchange wallet address.
Talk about a steal. The service was credited for being cheap and seamless for customers, as it cuts down the process of getting stolen credentials, setting up dummy accounts, and using these accounts to effect their money transfers.
As for the reason why these sellers are selling at such low prices Armor revealed that sellers find it a proper price to pay, for a long as they don’t have to take possession of the funds at all. So, by just getting the cash transferred, they transfer the risk to their customers.
The report added that Bitcoin is the most popular crypto asset being used in the transfer using Bitcoin wallets. Given its liquidity and ubiquity on the Dark Web (as well as in the real world as well), this isn’t especially surprising. Armor added that privacy-focused cryptocurrencies, including ZCash and Monero, are also quite prominent as well.
It’s quite understandable that Dark Web criminals will be willing to pay so much to keep themselves anonymous, given the fact that law enforcement authorities have been doing quite a lot of cracking down on the Dark Web this year.
Just this month, Europol and the Portuguese police force collaborate d to shut down a counterfeiting operation, which they claimed sold fake notes on the Dark Web in exchange for Bitcoin. According to local media, the operation has been in operation since 2017, and in that time, it has created €1.3 million ($1.44 million) in fake cash.
The leader of the operation was eventually found in Colombia, and was summarily extradited earlier this week. Police credited the criminals, saying that the cash they seized were some of the most advanced forgeries they had ever see, with minute details such as holograms and watermarks being present as well.
Up to €70,000 ($77,200) in fake cash was eventually seized from the criminals, and prosecutions are expected to be carried out in the coming weeks.