The Metaverse is red, driving the prosperity of NFT. Due to the non-fungible currency based on blockchain technology, the uniqueness and traceability of NFTs allow people to have unique digital assets, which are quickly favored, especially in the various art markets that are always plagued by “copying”.
The rapidly “hyped” NFT has not only attracted more and more people to join, but has also become a tool for “intended people” to commit crimes. NFT sales will reach $40 billion in 2021, but there are more and more thefts and scams in the NFT market, and many people who intend to enter NFT are worried that transactions may be involved in money laundering.
HMRC has caught three suspects in its recent investigation into 250 fake companies worth £1.4 million in scams, seized £5,000 worth of crypto assets (approximately $6,762) and three unvalued assets. NFT artwork (worth about $1.8 million), becoming the first law enforcement agency in the UK to seize NFTs.
HMRC does not have actual control of the digital assets on the blockchain, but obtained a court order to prevent the continued sale of the seized digital art. HMRC said the arrested suspects used sophisticated tactics to hide and cover up their illegal activities, including the use of fake IPs, 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 it keeps up with the way criminals and tax evaders hide their assets, and this seizure is a warning to anyone who thinks crypto assets can be used to hide funds.”
In addition to the United Kingdom, other countries have also used NFT scams or other illegal acts. Cent, the NFT issuance and trading platform, suspended all transactions due to the discovery of illegal NFTs.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently seized a large amount of bitcoin stolen from a cryptocurrency exchange in 2016 when a hacker attacked it, arresting two money laundering suspects. More than 94,000 bitcoins were seized. According to the price at the time of the theft, these bitcoins were worth about 70 million US dollars. However, the price of bitcoins has soared in recent years. Now the total value of this batch of bitcoins is about 4.5 billion US dollars, and less than 80% of them are recovered. , worth about $3.6 billion.
David Carlisle, director of policy and regulatory affairs at cryptocurrency firm Elliptic, said that law enforcement agencies can track criminals’ transactions and seize crypto assets involved in illegal activities. This NFT seizure means that criminals cannot hide in the cryptocurrency world.
The UK case shows that crypto assets are not a safe haven for criminals, but countries also need to be wary of criminal activities in crypto assets such as NFTs.