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Russian Central Bank: nearly half of all financial scams in Russia last year involved crypto

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Russian Central Bank: nearly half of all financial scams in Russia last year involved crypto

The Central Bank of Russia has disclosed that nearly half of the financial fraud schemes within the country in the previous year leveraged cryptocurrency and foreign currencies for payments.

Notably, the central bank made this disclosure in a report detailing the surge of scams in the country and outlining strategic measures to combat the ongoing escalation. The report affirms the identification of 5,735 entities involved in fraudulent activities in 2023.

According to the central bank, this figure represents a 15.5% increase from the number of scam schemes recorded in 2022, which amounted to 4,964. Nonetheless, despite the growing prevalence of these schemes, they have continued to last for shorter periods of time, and losses associated with them have dwindled.

Of the 5,735 scams, 2,944 of them involved financial pyramid schemes, up from 2,017 in 2022. The central bank further confirmed that cryptocurrencies and foreign currencies were the preferred payment method for pyramid scams, accounting for 45% of payments.

Data reveals that nearly 1,500 scam schemes, representing 26% of the total scam schemes, used cryptocurrency for donations in an attempt to leverage the nature of blockchain for absolute anonymity, a pattern that has prevailed since the inception of Bitcoin (BTC).

Growing concerns around anonymity

Numerous world leaders critical of cryptocurrencies attribute their disapproval to the heightened anonymity facilitated by blockchain. While many have argued that crypto is not as anonymous as perceived, the use of crypto mixers like Tornado Cash has only exacerbated these concerns.

In February 2018, Microsoft founder Bill Gates remarked on the level of anonymity that cryptocurrency offers in an AMA session on Reddit. The billionaire contended that cryptocurrency’s anonymity is not particularly a “good thing,” as it makes it difficult for law enforcement to track criminals.

Moreover, in March 2022, the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde claimed Russia was leveraging cryptocurrencies to evade Western sanctions. Members of the defunct black market Silk Road also looked to Bitcoin for transactions for increased anonymity.

Despite these multiple use cases and the escalating concerns, several crypto industry leaders have argued that the use of fiat currencies as tools for financial crimes is also prevalent. Former ex-CEO Changpeng Zhao argued last year that Bitcoin is traceable, while cash is not. 

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