09 Aug DEA says criminal cryptocurrency use has dropped by 80%
There’s no better authority to verify that bitcoin users are now speculators and not drug dealers according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
In fact, Special Agent Lilita Infante at the US DEA told Bloomberg criminal activity behind the use of bitcoin has dropped from 90% to less than 10% as speculators are now the prime users of the digital currency.
“The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased,’’ she said in an interview at her office in Weston, Florida. “The majority of transactions are used for price speculation.’’
Why is bitcoin still popular with bad guys?
Infante says bitcoin users are now using the cryptocurrency for speculation but the underground market still appreciates the supposed anonymity, speed and low cost of bitcoin transactions.
She said criminals like drug cartels are still increasing their use of cryptocurrencies for money laundering and cross-border payments also because they are perceived to be secure, ironically.
The downside of crooks using crypto
Because bitcoin and other blockchains are public and immutable, the DEA agent says these features give investigators the ability to track transactions, see patterns, and identify cryptocurrency addresses.
Infante said privacy coins like Monero and Zcash aren’t liquid enough for widespread use. While they’re more anonymous than bitcoin, she said law enforcement officials still have ways of tracking these transactions.
Traffickers and criminals are still exchanging bitcoin for cash in over-the-counter, peer-to-peer exchanges and major US-based cryptocurrency exchanges the agent said.
She said she hopes criminals will continue to use cryptocurrency. “The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people,’’ she said. “I actually want them to keep using them.’’
Let that be a warning to traders and crypto criminals alike.