Eastern Europe is a Hotspot for Illegal Cryptocurrency Trading

 

According to a new study, Eastern Europe is a hub for illicit cryptocurrency operations. According to Chainalysis data published on Wednesday, Eastern European cryptocurrency addresses contributed $815 million to investment ponzi scams that attract customers with false promises of large returns between June 2020 and July 2021. Ukraine, in particular, provided a large amount of traffic to fraud websites in the region, outnumbering the United States by about 20 million visits.

Eastern Europe is the region that sends the most cryptocurrency to darknet markets. This is attributable in great part to activities at Hydra Market. Hydra is the largest darknet market in the world, although it mainly serves Russian-speaking users in Eastern Europe. 

Finiko, a scam, received half of the money sent to the region. Finiko was a Ponzi scheme established in Russia that collapsed in July 2021, shortly after participants reported being unable to withdraw payments from their accounts. Finiko encouraged customers to invest with Bitcoin or Tether, promising monthly profits of up to 30%, and then established its own cryptocurrency that was sold on various platforms. 

Finiko was led by Kirill Doronin, a popular Instagram influencer who has been linked to numerous Ponzi scams, according to the Moscow Times. Finiko received approximately $1.5 billion in Bitcoin in over 800,000 distinct donations between December 2019 and August 2021.

While Eastern Europe is primarily thought of as a recipient of illicit cryptocurrency funds, the research points out that due to the region's economic instability, it is also home to an increasing number of victims. Scam payments outperformed all kinds of crime in Eastern Europe, as well as every other region analyzed by Chainalysis, despite the constant rise in ransomware assaults. 

Eastern Europe came in second place in terms of ransomware funds received, at $46 million. However, due to overlap in services, some of the $51 million in activity attributed to Western Europe could be credited to Eastern Europe, according to researchers. 

Cryptocurrency scams have also grown in popularity in the United States, which came in third in terms of scam payments after Eastern and Western Europe. Despite this, the firm discovered that fraudsters have amassed tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency ransomware payments.