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Cambodian marketplace Huione Guarantee became hub for crypto scammers: Elliptic

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Cambodian marketplace Huione Guarantee became hub for crypto scammers: Elliptic

Blockchain analysts at British forensic firm Elliptic say Cambodia-based marketplace Huione Guarantee has become a center for crypto scammers.

Cambodian giant marketplace Huione Guarantee, partially linked to the Cambodian ruling family, has seemingly emerged as a center for merchants providing money laundering services, blockchain forensic firm Elliptic says.

In a Wednesday report, the London-headquartered firm said that the marketplace, which is made up of a network of thousands of Telegram messaging channels and acts as an escrow provider for all USDT transfers, has become a home for bad actors, who are willing to launder proceeds from fraud activities. Yet, pig butchering isn’t the only illicit activity Huione’s merchants are fine dealing with. Others also sell software for the creation of scam crypto investment websites, Elliptic says.

Cambodian marketplace Huione Guarantee became hub for crypto scammers: Elliptic - 1

As per the firm’s analysis, crypto wallets used by Huione Guarantee and its merchants have received “over $11 billion since 2021,” though Elliptic believes that the total figure “is likely to be higher as there is significant turnover of merchants, and information on their cryptocurrency wallets is not always available.”

While the analysts admitted that “not all of these transactions can be definitively linked to fraud or other illicit activity,” they still noted that the nature of the products and services advertised on the platform “provide very strong indications that the vast majority of these payments relate to illicit activity.”

“Manual analysis of thousands of messages across the Huione Guarantee platform has provided us with overwhelming evidence that its predominant role is to act as an illicit marketplace.”

Elliptic

Although Huione Guarantee “has many of the characteristics of a darknet marketplace,” it’s still just a part of a broader business run by a Cambodian conglomerate, Huione Group. Elliptic notes that the group operates a payments and foreign exchange business, Huione Pay, where one of the directors of Huione Pay is Hun To, a cousin of the current Cambodian prime minister, Hun Manet.

Hun To has reportedly been suspected of “heroin trafficking and money laundering” by Australian Police, the firm says, adding that its findings indicate that Huione Group “not only facilitates cyber scams by operating the Huione Guarantee marketplace, but also suggest that one of its subsidiaries is actively involved in laundering proceeds of these scams.”