For years, Bitcoin has been used for criminals in the deep web in order to pay for illicit drugs and other products and services. Since then, and because there is a lack of information from mainstream media, Bitcoin has been taken as the currency for criminals. Technically, criminals prefer to use other altcoins with better privacy features than Bitcoin. Among these we can mention Dash, Zcash and Monero.
Criminals Prefer Altcoins, Not Bitcoin
According to the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), hard core criminals are using Zcash, Monero and Dash in order to process illicit transactions. Apparently, Bitcoin is not the preferred method that criminals have in order to preserve their identities and privacy.
Sophisticated criminals are switching to other cryptocurrencies and investigators are focusing just on Bitcoin. This is an important problem that enforcement agencies need to take into account. As criminals are changing their way of using cryptocurrencies, police and investigators should also conduct their operations into other altcoins.
Jarek Jacubchek, a Europol cyber-crime analyst, commented:
“We can see a quite obvious and distinct shift from bitcoin to cryptocurrencies that can provide a higher level of privacy. So basically, you can achieve a higher level of privacy using these ‘altcoins,’ and these altcoins are either using stealth as the basis, like Monero. There are also coins like Dash, that do not have stealth addresses, they have transparent addresses, but they have a mixing process that is part of the protocol.”
With these new methods used by criminals, police and investigators are not able to link specific transactions to individuals. That limits the ability to identify some suspects, gather evidence of criminality or seize criminal proceeds. In addition to it, cryptocurrencies like Monero have a feature that does not allow exchanges or shops to mark specific addresses.
Taiwan First Bitcoin Robbery
We wrote that criminals prefer to use privacy altcoins to make their transactions and hide their identities. But some individuals prefer to steal Bitcoin directly from individuals. This is what happened in Taiwan. A group of three criminals have decided to steal 18 Bitcoins from a person known as Tai, that wanted to sell its Bitcoins.
The attack took place in the city of Taichung, where Tai, and a friend of him, met with with three individuals that were interested in buying his bitcoins. As soon as Tai showed them that he was the owner of 18 BTC, the three stealers attacked them and stole their funds.
After the attack, the criminals gave them a special liquor in order to simulate a drunk argue between friends. While the robbery was taking place, another individual that saw the situation called the cops that appeared very fast. The police officers were able to caught one of the suspects, but two of them were able to escape from the place.
Even when criminals are using other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is still one of the most known cryptocurrencies. Robberies will happen more often and security forces will have to be more prepared than never in order to understand how the cryptocurrency world works.