On Monday, the head of the European Union’s police agency issued a warning that digital currencies are being used for money laundering purposes. Police were given authority to identify Internet criminal suspects.
Warnings have previously been made by financial and law enforcement authorities about the risks in dealing with digital currencies like bitcoin.
“We’re seeing that virtual currencies are being used as an instrument to facilitate crime, particularly in regard to the laundering of illicit profits.”
Wainwright says police officials should be allowed more authority to identify anonymous bitcoin abusers and suspects. In terms of power, Europol has no authority, but does coordinate policing and cross-border investigations. Europol works with the 28 countries that make up the Europian Union.
Additionally, the head of Europol claims police currently do not have the proper tools to identify such online criminal activity. Wainwright said:
“Criminals are abusing those freedoms and damaging society and threatening the security of millions.”
Silk Road Scandal
Online black market Silk Road was closed down by the US government back in October 2013. Silk Road is said to have done dealings worth $1 billion dollars.
The site allowed for users to buy illegal drugs, weapons and money launder with the use of bitcoin hidden from police radar. Head of the website, 29-year old Ross Ulbricht, was charged with computer hacking and drug trafficking on the black market.
In addition to those crimes, further allegations were made against Ulbricht for hiring a hit on a former Silk Road employee. Fortunately, it was never carried through and the employee was never harmed. His day in court is slated for November 2014.
Silk Road has installed fear and concern within many officials from different countries. The European Union’s perception of digital currency seems to be influenced by Silk Road.
Bitcoin has been linked to money laundering, in turn harming its reputation and veering people away from it. Silk Road has made its bad impression on bitcoin, but should not define the entirety of the digital currency resource.
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