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Shining a light on the seedy underbelly of the crypto world, the United Nations (UN) has unearthed a link between crypto scams and human trafficking in Southeast Asia.
In a report published this week, the UN detailed how scammers exploit trafficking victims for scam operations, forcing them into online criminal activities. Fake gambling sites, love scams and fraudulent crypto trading platforms are all tools for such operations.
Examples given include traffickers transferring victims from Cambodia to Myanmar, and subjecting them to torture, sexual abuse, and violence. Gang rape and trafficking into the sex sector are used as punishment for failure to meet targets.
Families of the victims are also threatened and approached for ransom payments in crypto, often being sent photographic evidence of the victim suffering physical abuse.
Scammers are drawn to crypto due to its anonymous nature, difficulty in tracing transactions, and detection evasion. Crypto is thus used as payment within their network, as well as external criminal actors involved in human trafficking.
Illicit gains are converted into fiat through platforms such as Meta Trader, Binance, Coinbase, and Trust Wallet.
USDT is the most popular crypto for scammers, likely due to its unmatched market cap size and peg to the US dollar.
In one case detailed by Bloomberg, 41-year-old Malaysian Blice Tan said he answered an ad on JobStreet for a role in telesales in Cambodia. Upon arriving, he was given phones with fake accounts and told he could not leave. Tan was ordered to ensure his targets sent Tether because it was "more safe." He explained, “We are afraid people will track us, for money laundering. It’s untraceable."
Most recently, Tether worth about US$170,260 (S$230,273) was discovered amid the $1 billion money laundering seize in Singapore.
What a wonderful world it could be.
- Robinhood's Heavy Bags: Arkham Intelligence has identified Robinhood's wallet as the fifth-largest ETH holder, with $2.54 billion in the token. The platform later clarified that the funds in the wallet are held in custody for user balances.
- EOS Gains Trading Approval in Japan: The blockchain network, which previously raised $4 billion in an initial coin offering years ago, is making significant strides in Japan, with its token seeing a surge in its value of around 10%. This comes despite the broader market facing challenges, highlighting EOS's resilience and the potential for further growth in the Japanese market.
- Coinbase's Vision for the Future: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has shared insights into potential startups and projects the exchange believes hold promise in the crypto space, such as layer 2 privacy, fully onchain P2P, onchain ads, tokenization and more. In a recent blog post, the exchange outlined areas of interest, signaling its vision for the future of digital assets and the broader blockchain ecosystem. Separately, Coinbase announced integration with global payments giant PayPal for users in Germany and the United Kingdom, with other EU countries "to follow soon."
- Uniswap Dances Past Legal Hurdles: The decentralized exchange just swerved past a securities lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, with the judge giving them a thumbs up. This isn't just a win for Uniswap, but a potential game-changer for the whole DeFi playground. If you've been wondering how the legal eagles view DeFi, this case might just be the crystal ball you were looking for.
- SEBA Bank's Hong Kong Hat-Tip: SEBA Bank has secured key regulatory approval in Hong Kong, marking a significant step in its expansion efforts. This approval paves the way for the bank to offer a broader range of services in the region, further solidifying its position in the global crypto banking landscape.