Robert Mueller: “Russians May Have Used Cryptocurrency Exchanges to Interfere with U.S. Elections”
The U.S Presidential election of 2016 was not without interference from external forces. As such, the Justice Department has claimed to have identified Russian nationals who attempted to disrupt the elections.
The Russian Trolls
According to Fortune, Russian citizens identified in a Justice Department citation released on February 16, 2018, employed cryptocurrency exchanges as part of an alleged game plan to mislead the citizens of the United States before the commencement of the 2016 presidential election. The indictment is part of the U.S special counsel, Robert Mueller’s current investigation into possible election interference by the Russian government. So far, at least thirteen Russian nationals and three groups, who allegedly carried out misinformation campaigns in the U.S via Facebook and Twitter, have been pointed out.
The Russian nationals conspired with other agents and allegedly stole social security numbers, home addresses and additional vital information from U.S citizens. They then went on to use these details to create fake Paypal accounts, and spurious accounts on cryptocurrency exchanges, Mueller’s investigation concluded. The indictment also declared that the mischievous groups purchased bogus U.S driver’s license numbers and other identification records that enabled them to “maintain their accounts at PayPal and elsewhere, including online cryptocurrency exchanges.”
The indictment failed to state what the Russian citizens used their digital currency accounts for, but it hinted that the fake bank and PayPal accounts “were used to purchase advertisements on Facebook” that aided the promotion of their U.S public misinformation campaigns.
Illegal Crypto Use
Criminals and cyberpunks have often used the power of anonymity inherent in many cryptocurrencies, as well as their decentralized nature, to perpetuate crime.
Further, it has been proven that half of all bitcoin transactions and at least 24 percent of its users may be associated with crime. In December 2017, for instance, the United States arrested a female cryptocurrency user Zoobia Shahnaz, for trying to fund terrorist organizations using fiat and digital currency. In a much larger and more international event, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network dolled out a fine of $110 million was dolled out against the Russia-based cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e. It was alleged that the exchange facilitated “transactions involving ransomware, computer hacking, identity theft, tax refund fraud schemes, public corruption, and drug trafficking.”
The saga led to the ultimate collapse of the exchange. However, some crypto enthusiasts believe that BTC-e has been resurrected as a new exchange known as WEX.