Law enforcement agencies across the world including the European Union (EU) and Interpol have emphasized the necessity of bitcoin regulations due to rise of darknet sales drug trades. However, B2B payments firm Bottomline Technologies vice president of product strategy, cyber fraud and risk management Mike Vigue stated in an interview that direct transactions and bank wire transfers are the preferred method for cybercriminals and fraudsters.
In essence, the darknet is a marketplace of anonymous users selling and purchasing a wide range of products. It provides freedom to merchants and consumers to acquire or trade any items of their choice. This flexibility is seldom abused by certain users or criminals selling illicit items over the darknet.
However, over the past few years, law enforcement agencies have established a widely spread propaganda on the darket, describing it as a safe haven of criminals.
In doing so, the majority of organizations and government agencies misled the general population to consider bitcoin as criminal money and other anonymous cryptocurrencies like monero as a money laundering tool.
Particularly, the EU publicized its stance on bitcoin and other virtual currencies in July of 2016, hinting the imposition of tightened anti-money laundering regulations on bitcoin wallet providers.
“Transactions with virtual currencies benefit from a higher degree of anonymity than classical financial fund transfers and therefore entail a risk that virtual currency may be used by terrorist organizations to conceal financial transfers. Possible further risks relate to the irreversibility of transactions, means of dealing with fraudulent operations, the opaque and technologically complex nature of the industry, and the lack of regulatory safeguards,” read a proposal from the Council of the European Union.
These misled initiatives led by government-supported agencies also created a criminal image of bitcoin, which was mass consumed by the mainstream media and investors.
However, payments firm executive Mike Vigue stated in a recent interview that bank wire transfers amongst other traditional forms of payments are the preferred methods of transactions for cyber criminals, as they drive higher profits than dark web sales.
He further emphasized that a direct wire transfer fraud or sale could yield over 100 times more financial gain in comparison to selling stolen data on the dark web.
“For example, a fraudulent wire transfer initiated through a business email compromise scheme can yield a fraudster 100 times more financial gain then a selling a credit card number or medical record via the Dark Web. Seventy-three percent of organizations experienced attempted and/or actual payments fraud in the past year,” said Vigue.
In fact, DeepDotWeb recently reported that financial data of 200 million people was sold on the darknet for only US$600. If the same set of data was sold to the company that lost its data on a direct bank transfer ransom, it could have drove exponential profit margins in comparison to the dark net sale.
Vigue added that 73% of companies and organization experienced attempts or actual payment fraud in the past year, which is a substantially higher rate of ransom payments and darknet sales conducted in bitcoin.