In a concerning turn of events, it’s been reported that criminal organizations like the Mafia groups have seen an increase in cryptocurrency usage. Courtesy of the Italian Anti-Mafia Police Directorate (DIA). Speaking to Zeit Online, a German outlet, the police force had this to say
“All criminal organizations, including those of the Mafia-type, have an interest in using these instruments for their business,” said a DIA spokesperson. The spokesperson’s identity was unidentified for safety concerns.
Moreover, the DIA also put out a report very recently covering Italy-based organized crime spanning the 1st 6 months of 2020–the latest period of time from which the Data has been obtained.
In their report, the DIA mentioned “Ndrangheta, the country’s strongest and most powerful criminal syndicate, are growing more and more attuned to modern tools like cryptocurrency and the deep web.”
The report further states that cryptocurrencies when used are being done so anonymously for the purchase of drugs like Ecstacy and LSD, which is a trade that’s seen some significant growth since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. In terms of cryptocurrencies and the dark web being used in tandem, this is hardly the first time that such an occurrence has taken place, seeing as how in 2020, the dark web vendors were the ones making more money than ever before.
A Tangled Web: Cryptocurrency and The Dark Web
An interesting piece of information was reported in a chain analysis regarding the dark web markets. While they were decreasing in number, they tended to increase in volume. That it happened during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic just makes sense.
“While total darknet market revenue has already surpassed 2019 totals, the overall number of purchases, and likely customers as well, has fallen significantly, though the remaining purchases are for higher values,” the Chainalysis reported last December.
Backing up the claims of the Anti-Mafia Directorate, the increasing revenue was measured with various cryptocurrencies including but not limited to Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Tether. Ingo Fielder, who is a co-founder of the Blockchain Research Lab, provided some insight by suggesting that the data showed illicit crypto finance alarmingly becoming an increasing remit of high-end criminals not unlike the Mafia. Other criminal organizations in the same vein were also described by the DIA.
Fiedler also added, “Only the most sophisticated can obfuscate their traces by now. That prevents small dealers from participating in the market and a natural tendency towards fewer but larger dealers on those markets.”