Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Russians Indicted for Meddling Faked Cryptocurrency Exchange Accounts

Russians Indicted for Meddling Faked Cryptocurrency Exchange Accounts

Highlighting the coming challenges of Know Your Customer (KYC) rules in the cryptocurrency trading arena, it’s come to light that several of the 13 Russians recently indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller for election meddling in the United States were using forged identification documents to maintain cryptocurrency exchange accounts. 

Also see: Bitcoin Price Goes Bullish Again: A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

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A Notable Wrinkle

Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into 2016 election interference seemingly reached a fever pitch on Friday, February 16th, as his office announced indictments against 3 organizations and 13 Russian nationals accused of meddling in America’s elections.

In international geopolitical circles, it was a blockbuster announcement in and of itself. When it comes to the cryptoverse, though, an under-reported aspect of the story was the Special Counsel’s indication that the involved Russians had been using fake cryptocurrency exchange accounts in conjunction with their surreptitious political activities.

Russia’s reported “Troll Factory” in St. Petersburg

Mueller’s indictment read:

“In order to maintain their accounts at PayPal and elsewhere, including online cryptocurrency exchanges, Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased and obtained false identification documents, including fake U.S. driver’s licenses.”

On the one hand, the revelation is in line with cryptocurrencies’ premature potential to skirt traditional financial accountability. On the other, the indictment shows that even those who desire anonymity the most in the cryptoverse can be publicly outed — or at least charged — with enough investigation.

Revelation Comes at Tender Time

During the U.S. Senate’s recent first hearing on cryptocurrencies, most Senators sounded surprisingly agreeable on the space. There were a handful, however, who had the expected concerns about cryptocurrencies’ ability to be used by criminals or malicious state actors.

So, as cryptocurrencies continue to enter the U.S. political limelight more than ever, some American politicos will surely become increasingly vocal — even biting — when it comes to how cryptocurrencies can be used for darker ends.

Though, per Mueller’s indictment, apparently PayPal can be used just the same.

What’s your take? Is this an ugly look for crypto, or a problem that’s going to increasingly rear its head in different ways? Sound off in the comments below. 

Images via WSJ, New York Times

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