Use of Bitcoin and Crypto for Money Laundering Minuscule Compared to Cash, Report Shows

Most cybercriminals involved in money-laundering activities would much rather use cash than Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency, according to a new report.

Money laundering activities by cybercriminals remain a grave global threat, causing a sizeable dent on the global economy, according to a new research report written by British defense and aerospace company BAE Systems on behalf of the global financial messaging services provider SWIFT.

“The activities of all cyber-criminals, whether working individually, as part of a small gang, as organised crime groups, or even for a nation state, have resulted in annual total cyber-crime revenue estimated at USD 1.5 trillion.” 

But contrary to fears that cryptocurrencies are an easier way for organized crime groups to move and liquidate stolen funds, SWIFT says the role of cryptocurrencies is minuscule compared to cash.

“Identified cases of laundering through cryptocurrencies remain relatively small compared to the volumes of cash laundered through traditional methods.”

Despite the minimal role of cryptocurrencies in money laundering, there are still concerns that the developing privacy-centric features of some cryptocurrencies could still pose a threat. 

“The raft of alternative cryptocurrencies that offer greater anonymity, as well as services like mixers and tumblers that help obscure the source of funds by blending potentially identifiable cryptocurrency funds with large amounts of other funds, could boost the appeal of cryptocurrency for nefarious purposes.”

SWIFT singled out one major North Korean cybercrime group, the Lazarus Group. In June 2018, the group orchestrated a massive cyberattack and made off $30 million worth of crypto assets. In addition, Lazarus moved 2,000 BTC to a cryptocurrency exchange over a four-day stretch which involves 68 transactions.