Canadian crypto criminals in for the long run, officials predict

A report from Canada’s financial intelligence unit predicts that criminals will continue to rely on crypto laundering to hide their funds while maintaining an “overwhelming reliance” on mixing services and exchanges. 

The report, published by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), highlights the efforts it undertook between 2022 and 2023 to protect the country’s financial system.

In the face of a crypto winter, the report says it “expects to see further long-term growth in the adoption of cryptocurrency by illicit and threat actors seeking to raise, move, and hide funds outside the traditional banking system.”

The agency also noted that despite the “massive growth” of crypto-related crime being identified, criminals will likely stick to the same methods of laundering their funds. And the most prevalent method for ransomware attackers and fraudsters looking to launder their funds is crypto.

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The report also highlights an increased reliance on crypto mixers to launder assets, a method that recently came under increased scrutiny from the US for its connection to North Korean hacking groups. It adds that high-risk exchanges are also popular for laundering funds, while centralized exchanges are commonly used to only launder small amounts.

FINTRAC warns Canadians that ransomware will remain an issue for years thanks to the growing industry of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS). Hacking group Rhysida, which reportedly offers RaaS, recently threatened to release medical details belonging to the British Royal Family unless a £300,000 ($380,000) bitcoin ransom was paid.

It estimates that decentralized finance (DeFi) will cause issues for Canada’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regime.

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