This was reported by the German press citing an interview given to the Deutschen Presse-Agentur (DPA) by an expert of the DIA of the Italian anti-mafia police who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons.
The reasons for the love of Bitcoin by criminal organizations
The Italian expert said:
“All criminal organizations, including mafia-type ones, have an interest in using these tools for their own business”.
Unfortunately the interview is not public, so it is not possible to know any other relevant details disclosed by the Italian expert, but it must be said that the DIA knows criminal organizations very well, given that it is a government agency created thirty years ago specifically to fight the mafia.
The German press also reports that the commissioner has revealed that the mafia has entered the financial sector thanks to technological developments and that cryptocurrency transactions are fast and secure and offer a sort of anonymity, which is all useful advantages also for illegal business.
However, the numbers relating to this use have not been made public, so it is not possible to get an idea of how much the criminal activities under observation by the DIA are actually using cryptocurrencies for their business.
The interview was not strictly about the use of cryptocurrencies in criminal environments, but the size of the criminal activities monitored, so much so that the commissioner revealed that, for example, the “Ndrangheta earns between 300 and 350 million euros a week from drug trafficking. ” . However, he did not report what portion of this money is being transferred into cryptocurrencies.
Cyber crime and cryptocurrencies
Previous studies showed that criminal organizations were interested in cryptocurrencies in particular for drug trafficking, cyber-crime, as well as money laundering.
But, despite anonymity, the Italian police have already managed to arrest several criminals who had used cryptocurrencies, also because the police in recent years have strengthened their units investigating the Internet.
The use of Monero for greater anonymity
Cryptocurrencies are also used by criminal organizations in Germany, so much so that the Bonn Customs Directorate has revealed that they are used for online payments related to crimes related to cross-border transport, and that in most cases bitcoin (BTC) is used. and Monero (XMR).
Crypto is used to make the ordering and shipping processes of illicit products or services completely anonymous, allowing criminals to hide their identity or location. For this reason it is used a lot in particular XMR.
However, according to the co-founder of the Blockchain Research Lab, Ingo Fiedler, only the largest and most powerful organizations are truly able to obfuscate their operations by eliminating all digital traces, because to really achieve this you need real specialists whose costs are often prohibitive for smaller organizations.
Furthermore, it is necessary to distinguish between the various cryptocurrencies, because they offer different levels of anonymity.
For example , Bitcoin’s on-chain transactions don’t offer a high level of anonymity, while those in Monero do. However, it is also true that off-chain transactions in BTC offer a very high level of obscuration, but generally these are small amounts, and still leave some traces on the blockchain (at the opening and closing of the Lightning Network channels).
Some sort of help for criminals could come from Monero’s atomic swaps that allow you to trade BTC in XMR, and vice versa, without having to rely on an intermediary. For example, swapping BTC in XMR and then making a completely anonymous payment in XMR could cause you to lose all traces, even if the recipient of the XMRs then swaps them back into BTC.
As it is easy to understand, to carry out operations of this type in complete safety, when they involve large sums, it is definitely useful to get help from experts, if not even necessary. For this reason, minor criminal organizations are hardly able to carry out such operations.