“We all have an interest in stopping cybercrime, which also allows many other crimes, from human trafficking and migrant smuggling to drug trafficking, illicit firearms and wildlife and money laundering,” said the director general. of the United Nations Office of Drugs. and Crime, this week.
The states meet at the UNODC in Vienna to analyze criminal justice responses to prevent and counteract cybercrime, which uses new technologies to generate $ 1.5bn in annual revenue, with an increasing amount bleached through digital methods vanguard that often prevent detection.
From fake ebooks of £ 2,000 on Amazon and fake listings on Airbnb to ghost travel on Uber and coins in games on video games, the black market of the cybersquatter has come a long way since Walter White’s car wash.
The cybercriminals of today operate in another orbit to the criminals of yesterday thanks to these new and improbable ways to wash dirty money. And because traditional money laundering tracking methods rely heavily on surveillance of banking transactions, they are leaving the authorities for dust.
“Tracking the clever ways in which cybercriminals use digitally-enabled washing facilities is one of the biggest police challenges of the moment,” says Dr. Michael McGuire, professor of criminology at the University of Surrey and author of a new study. about cybercrime.
About $ 200 billion, 10% of the $ 2 million that is laundered annually, was cybernated today. By 2020, the digitally laundered proportion and traditional cash methods are expected to double as economies become increasingly cash-starved.
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“Faced with a rapidly evolving picture of digital laundering techniques and increasingly opulent cyber criminal groups, law enforcement agencies with few resources and few resources have difficulty matching [them],” says McGuire.
The rapid expansion of fintech, e-commerce and mobile application services has made business and money transfer faster and uninterrupted than ever. But it has also opened the floodgates to cybercriminals who are now finding ways to co-opt legitimate sites and platforms on their own.
As a result, the laundering of transactions has become a major financial blind spot for the authorities.
“The increase in digital financial crime that accompanies the frictionless payment systems these technologies promote suggests that criminals can innovate as quickly, if not faster,” editor of the Alphaville blog of the Financial Times in March 2017. “For now at least, more fintech “is equal to more ‘crimtech'”.
The products listed at astronomically high prices on eBay appear to be real transactions when they are sold, but in fact they are methods to secretly wash and ship in cash. This simple and popular ruse has been used by the Islamic State to channel cash to operatives in the Middle East.
Similar fake transactions are found elsewhere. The books of gibberish are for thousands of dollars and are believed to facilitate money laundering.
Titles like I Have Abundance Overflowing In My Life Forever: Brinks Trucks Follow me Everrywhere Go Eternally (whatever you ask to believe you receive) are advertised for around $ 2,000.
An author, who was contacted by the US tax authorities. UU. Affirms that the fraudulent sales of its obscure books were used to send almost $ 24,000.
Almost the same happens through “ghost travel” in Uber, from money laundering clients to pre-established rates. There is even how to do this.
On Airbnb, the properties are apparently let out without anyone staying in them. It is reported that scammers use stolen credit cards to wash their dirty money in collusion with Airbnb hosts, who then send a percentage of the sum.
On the other hand, Paul Manafort, former campaign president of Donald Trump, allegedly used money laundered from a foreign account in Cyprus to buy a Manhattan apartment of 2.85 million dollars that he had rented to thousands through Airbnb, despite being against the terms of the contract.
Video games, including Fifa and Counter Strike, sell game elements that allow users to move faster in the game.
These items were resold to thousands in the gambling markets where money laundering is reported, while it is also possible to send convertible virtual money to associates abroad.
“Cyberlaundering is on an upward trajectory, it is increasing with the daily use of the Internet,” says Michael Perklin, a digital forensic investigator responsible for trapping cybercriminals.
Payments of items on eBay are often made through PayPal, which was previously the tool of rigor for cyber-laundering before the emergence of cryptocurrencies such as ZCash and Monero that offer near-total anonymity, but still popular with criminals.
“Microlaundering is the most obvious way to bypass PayPal’s payment limits,” says Dr. McGuire. “It just runs thousands of payments across multiple accounts, it’s almost impossible to detect.”
PayPal processed $ 49 billion in the first quarter of 2018 alone and was investigating the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering program.
The world is moving away from traditional banking systems, thanks to the rapid growth of alternative payment options such as Alipay, WeChat Pay, Circle Pay and M-Pesa, which is now the leading digital money platform in Africa. As these mobile payment systems have grown in popularity, they have also become an integral tool within the growing cyber crime economy.
The US Department of State UU He recently warned that mobile payment systems, which accounted for more than $ 700 billion of transactions worldwide in 2017, are highly vulnerable to money laundering.
“Financial regulators have their heads in their hands on this kind of thing,” McGuire continues. “It’s almost like using the postal system as part of the cyber crime economy, you just can not examine all the packages or, in fact, a transaction of less than € 1,000.”
“Or it will only have to be accepted as a fact of the day, or if there is a great willingness to control it, there will have to be a change of mentality about how small payments are handled and addressed.”