By Dan Byrne for AMLi
TIMELY ACTION by Italian authorities following an illegal cryptocurrency trail has saved a woman’s life, it has been revealed.
New information from Europol describes how the Italian Postal and Communication Police were able to follow a criminal transaction, set up on the dark web, and arrest an Italian national who had planned to have his ex-girlfriend killed.
The individual had hired a hitman via the dark web and arranged for them to be paid approximately €10,000 in bitcoin for the job, Europol said in a statement Wednesday.
It is this transaction which authorities used to track down the culprits and prevent the murder from actually taking place.
“Europol carried out an urgent, complex crypto-analysis to enable the tracing and identification of the provider from which the suspect purchased the cryptocurrencies,” the EU’s central law-enforcement agency said.
“The Italian police then reached out to the identified Italian crypto service provider, who confirmed the information uncovered during the investigation and provided the authorities with further details about the suspect.”
It is understood that the intended victim was not harmed in any way because authorities managed to trace the crypto trail in time.
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have historically been seen as channels that allow a freer flow of money linked to criminal activity, especially when compared to traditional banking equivalents.
Late last year, MEP Eero Heinäluoma told the European Parliament in Brussels that around $76BN worth of illegal activity each year was estimated to be done to bitcoin alone.
Regulations surrounding public oversight of cryptos are tightening in the EU with new anti-money laundering directives. However, events like this latest episode in Italy demonstrate its continued link with criminals and the dark web.
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