The old saying, when one door closes another one opens, is remarkably true, especially if you are a 21st century criminal in constant search of new and more efficient methods to launder the proceeds of your illicit behaviors. For months now I have labeled the cryptocurrency era The Golden Age of money laundering because of the door of opportunity cryptocurrency and its associated products and services opened for cyber crooks. They took full advantage of that opportunity too, laundering an estimated $33 billion (USD) worth of crypto through that open door in the last five years.
However, as I have also mentioned over the past few months, those freewheeling days are numbered. Most governments around the world are aware of the rampant financial fraud taking place with not only crypto, but also NFTs. As a result, at least in America, a clamp down in the form of regulation and centralization of crypto and its associated products is on its way. Those crypto products and services that specialize in cleaning cash, such as mixers and tumblers, will most likely be outlawed. Cyber criminals will have to kiss them and some of their other ‘Darknet’ founded tools goodbye. Door closes?
What type of door opens however when Web(3), the metaverse and decentralization become integral to each of our daily lives? In the not too distant future many of our experiences in virtual arenas such as the metaverse will be played out by our unique avatars, or what have been labeled our ‘virtual twins’. The virtual twin, or what I like to call my digital doppelganger, is sort of the embodiment of the Web(3), metaverse user experience, right? Isn’t the metaverse basically Minecraft for adults? Sounds like fun and potentially profitable from a land grab standpoint, but the existence of millions of virtual twins also opens the door for criminal activity on a massive, never-seen-before scale. How?
Let’s say a crook hacks into your avatar and assumes your unique identity, and then rips off a series of crimes in the metaverse? For example, maybe you have your avatar set to autopilot for paying bills? For fun, instead of paying the rent on your virtual cannabis shop via direct withdrawal you have your avatar visit the bank, which is just across the street.
CEO of the Alacer Group. Sharing the latest news in financial crimes and best practices that enable financial institutions to prevent money laundering.