Cryptocurrencies Draw Mafia Online To Search For 'Dirty Money'
The Mafia is involved in almost every area of business in Italy. As cryptocurrencies become more common, organized crime groups such as the 'Ndrangheta are using bitcoin and others to help disguise illicit transactions and spend funds anonymously, Johannes Neudecker reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Photo Insert: Even the Mafia is jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon.
More and more, Italy's Mafia is turning to digital currency for its illegal operations, for example. "All criminal organizations, even those like the Mafia, have an interest in using these instruments for their business," said an official with the DIA, Italy's anti-Mafia police, in an interview with dpa.
He asked that his name not be used for safety reasons. The best-known cryptocurrency is bitcoin, which is purely digital, meaning there's no bill or coin to be held. Instead, the money is made up of cryptological codes of numbers and letters.
They are generally decentralized, with transactions taking place directly between users. That means the transactions do not involve financial regulators or government guidelines. Users employ something called a blockchain, a complex kind of database, to make sure that bitcoins aren't duplicated.
Transactions with digital currencies are fast and offer security, as well as a kind of anonymity, all of which are advantageous for illegal businesses. That makes it hard to find anyone involved in any business using cryptocurrency.
Police tend not to reveal data about trade volumes, investigations or damages linked to any illegal business. The 'Ndrangheta Mafia, based in Calabria, use cryptocurrencies for trade with Latin American cartels, according to the most recent DIA report to lawmakers, focused on the first half of 2020.
The 'Ndrangheta focuses primarily on the cocaine trade and has made use of digital money to ease transactions with Colombian cartels. And there's more, according to the report.
"The Mafia seems to be directing its attention to cybercrime and the possibilities of the dark web, which are both hard to monitor, in order to direct large sums of financial resources to completely illegal ends."