By Jonny Tickle
Russian killers-for-hire are increasingly being paid with cryptocurrency, believing that the relative anonymity granted by digital money and electronic wallets means that they can more easily get away with their crimes.
That’s according to Konstantin Komarda, the head of Russia’s Cybercrime Investigation Department, who told news agency TASS about the challenges involved in identifying who is sending and receiving crypto.
“We investigate professional attackers who are IT specialists, who feel confident in the cyber environment, who carefully plan crimes and use an arsenal of ways to maintain their anonymity and remain unpunished,” Komarda said.
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Komarda noted that payments are often made through 15-20 different electronic wallets and are mixed with tens of thousands of other operations.
“In general, since 2013, the crime rate in the field of information technology has increased more than 20 times, and continues to increase,” he revealed. “Today, every seventh crime in Russia is committed with the help of information technologies or in cyberspace.”
As of January 1, cryptocurrencies are now officially legal in Russia. In July, a bill signed by President Vladimir Putin brought cryptocurrencies out of an unregulated ‘grey zone’, and they must now be counted as assets, along with physical types. Crypto will still be prohibited as a means of payment, however, so nobody will be spending Bitcoin in shops any time soon.
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“Cryptocurrency is described by lawmakers as a means of payment and a means of saving, as an investment, but it can’t be used to pay for goods and services in Russia,” Anatoly Aksakov, head of the State Duma Committee on the Financial Market, told news agency RIA Novosti.
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