How to catch the Bitcoin whale – fraud schemes explained.
In the crypto world, Bitcoin-whales are considered to be the people who have thousands of precious coins on their wallets. As it turns out, there are not so much of them.
Quite recently, Chainalysis “scanned” the entire network of the first cryptocurrency and found that only 1600 accounts contain more than 1000 BTC. Probably, several of them belong to Satoshi Nakamoto, which everyone knows about, but nobody has a clue about his personality.
Nevertheless, many people who bought Bitcoin many years ago for tech experiments or just for fun had become very rich last year due to cryptomarkets rising – a lot of multimillionaires and even billionaires had appeared suddenly. Even some of them managed to get to the Forbes list, this kind of people mostly tend to stay in the shadows.
Not all of them are active participants of the community or businessmen. Of course, some of them just withdrew some money for classical entrepreneurship, luxury goods, travel and other things that can be bought for cash.
However, when you trade 30, 50 or even 100 BTC, you are not concerned with security and legality from the law are your problems, and when you need to exchange 1000-5000 BTC, it becomes the problem of governmental and regulatory authorities.
No wonder that real criminals – drug lords or terrorists have their own established channels of financing and money laundering, and lawyers have their own methods of destroying such channels.
Let’s imagine that you’re the good guy here and you need to deduce a tremendous amount of money of a 4000 BTC for example. Even considering the bearish lawlessness in the market, it is more than $ 25 million at the current exchange rate. Do you start thinking if it is possible to arrange everything in offshore zones? And of course – how and where to find such a buyer?
In 2015, sophisticated fraudsters took care that the answer to the main question had become the following. We call it a conditional harpoon cannon because of this time attackers aimed at single whales, not organizations like exchanges or e-wallets.
At first, scammers throw their networks into the necessary information flows, which are used by community members. The story they tell always has same contours and diverges only in non-essential details.
A particular person “with great experience in concluding international crypto-currency transactions” has a “large buyer” who is ready to buy 10 000 – 20 000 BTC at a price of -5 % shall we say of the Bitfinex price. And the task of an “experienced intermediary” is to find a seller or sellers. Then they will be invited to meet in such cities as Vienna or Zurich to make the necessary transfers of tete-a-tete. Besides, to scale this scheme, intermediaries attract other intermediaries, promising the recent commission, which gives the system a pyramidal character.
The most known and rich cities often are used for such crime schemes.
One might think that the most bitcoins-whales are intelligent people and will feel wrong, but scammers are incredibly persuasive, focusing on details and nuances, demonstrating imaginary professionalism. And what can happen to a man in a wonderful Switzerland, a country of bank secrecy, luxury, and security? It is the names of cities that create the so-called luxury effect so that the story of a large buyer seemed believable.
The overall scheme is quite simple: the sophisticated fraudsters could arrange a change of suitcases with cash or any other virtuoso trick to convince the seller that he received money without actually receiving anything – not even weapon threatening is required.
There are also thoughtful raids of European law enforcement agencies, which take the issue of money laundering and violation of tax legislation very seriously. Even in Switzerland, where bank secrecy is akin to the biblical commandment, the transfer of a suitcase or sports bags with a massive pile of cash will cause suspicion.
All members of the community should remember that the Bitcoin-industry has attracted the attention of not only hackers, talented crackers of digital systems, but also good old thieves from the area of classical crime. They can come up with dozens of methods for identifying and robbing whales, but the latter should always be a step ahead, and certainly not to be fooled by such infamous schemes.