Crypto assets are not safe havens, NFTs seized for the first time

The popularity of the metaverse in recent years has also led to the prosperity of NFTs. As a non-fungible currency based on blockchain technology, the uniqueness and traceability of NFT allows people to own unique digital assets, so it is quickly favored, especially in various countries that are always plagued by "copying". Art market.

Image via: Genesis Block

The rapidly "hyped" NFT has not only attracted more and more people to join, but has also become a tool for "intended people" to carry out criminal activities. Sales of NFTs will reach $40 billion in 2021, but there is an increasing number of thefts and scams in the NFT market, and many people who intend to enter NFTs worry that many of these transactions are involved in money laundering.

HMRC recently arrested 3 suspects and seized 5,000 pounds worth of crypto assets (about 6762 USD) and three unvalued NFT artworks (total value of approximately USD 1.8 million), becoming the first law enforcement agency in the UK to seize NFTs.

▲ Picture from: Skynews

Currently HMRC does not actually control these digital assets stored on the blockchain, but has obtained court orders to prevent the continued sale of seized digital artworks.

HMRC said the three arrested suspects used sophisticated tactics to hide and disguise their illegal activities, including the use of fake addresses, prepaid phone cards, VPNs and fake identities.

Nick Sharp, deputy director of HMRC's Economic Crime Unit, said: "The government is constantly adapting to new technologies to ensure we keep up with the way criminals and tax evaders hide their assets, and this seizure is for anyone who believes they can use crypto assets to hide funds from HMRC. Man's warning."

▲ Picture from: Forbes

In addition to the United Kingdom, other countries have also used NFTs for fraud or other illegal business activities. Previously, Cent, the NFT issuance and trading platform, suspended all trading activities due to the discovery of illegal NFTs on the platform.

It is worth mentioning that the US Department of Justice recently seized a large amount of bitcoin stolen when a cryptocurrency exchange was hacked in 2016, and arrested two suspects on suspicion of money laundering. More than 94,000 bitcoins were seized, worth about $70 million at the trading price at the time of the theft. However, the price of bitcoin has soared in recent years. The total value of the stolen bitcoin is currently about $4.5 billion, and less than 80% of the recovered bitcoin is worth about $3.6 billion.

▲ Picture from: SecNews

David Carlisle, director of policy and regulatory affairs at cryptocurrency firm Elliptic, said law enforcement agencies are able to track and trace criminals' transactions and seize crypto assets used for illicit activities, and the seizure of NFTs shows that criminals cannot hide in the cryptocurrency world. .

This case in the UK shows that encrypted assets are not a safe haven for criminals, but countries also need to be vigilant about the criminal activities of encrypted assets such as NFTs.

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