Organized crime is increasingly concerned about the use of digital currencies. The mafia in Italy frequently employs cryptocurrency in its illegal activities.
In an interview with the German news agency, a head of the Italian anti-Mafia police Dia said, “All criminal organisations, including those of the Mafia type, have an interest in using these instruments for their business.”In Italy, the Dia investigates organised crime. The commissioner does not want to be identified for his own safety.
Because it is entirely digital, there is no money that can be held in one’s hands. The majority of digital money is made up of cryptic codes made up of numbers and letters. They are typically traded decentralised and directly between users, rather than through a financial institution, and they are not regulated by the government. Bitcoins are based on a complex database technology called the blockchain, which ensures that they are not copied multiple times.
Because of this technological advancement, the mafia entered the financial world, explains the slide commissioner in his office on the outskirts of Rome, which is adorned with documents. Cryptocurrency transactions are quick, secure, and provide some anonymity, all of which are advantages that are useful for illegal activity.As a result, locating those responsible for the trade is difficult. Investigative tactics prevent the police from disclosing sales figures, police operations, or damage caused by illegal business.
According to the latest report to parliament on the first half of 2020, mafia organisations such as the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta use cryptocurrencies to trade with Latin American cartels, for example.The ‘Ndrangheta is primarily involved in the cocaine trade and makes payments to Colombian cartels using digital currency.
“The Mafia also appears to be paying attention to cybercrime and the difficult-to-control possibilities of the dark web in order to feed huge flows of economic resources into the context of total illegality,” the report adds.In layman’s terms, this means that the Mafia moves massive sums of money through the so-called Dark Web, or hidden corners of the Internet. Payments are mostly made with digital currencies there. The mafia has the ability to hide money and settle debts.
Despite anonymity and global networking, successful searches are still possible.Italian police arrested more than two dozen suspected members of the Nigerian mafia Black Ax across the country in connection with illegal immigration and drug trafficking at the end of April this year. They are said to have used Bitcoin to buy counterfeit credit cards on the internet and then used them to buy other items.
Four Ukrainians were handcuffed in the Tuscan city of Lucca in August 2019. They belonged to an organisation, according to the investigators, that bought drugs from cocaine to LSD to marijuana on the dark web in the Netherlands and Germany and paid for them with Bitcoin.
In recent years, the police have strengthened their Internet investigation units, according to the Dia semi-annual report. The searches are also involving the financial police and the Carabinieri, for example.As a Carabinieri general told the newspaper “La Repubblica” in June, confiscating everything in the investigation is also important from a legal standpoint in order to protect the data’s immutability. They can only be used as evidence in court if they are done this way.
Cryptocurrencies are now a part of the criminal world in Germany as well.When asked, the General Customs Directorate in Bonn says, “The use of crypto currencies for online payment in the context of criminal offences in the customs administration’s jurisdiction has increased significantly.” The majority of the time, the criminals use Bitcoins and the cryptocurrency Monero, according to the findings of the investigators.
Cryptocurrencies are also used in the context of criminal offences to completely anonymize the ordering and shipping processes of incriminated products or services, according to the General Customs Directorate.Because payment transactions are made between users rather than through a bank, which could report irregularities to law enforcement authorities in the event of suspicion, this allows criminals to conceal their identity or location.