You might be wondering how I came up with the topic, crypto Atms near me, funny right ? Well, let’s not dwell much on that, but then recently, a Congressional watchdog called for stronger regulation of crypto ATMs, and that has been the topic of the day.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) advises that the IRS and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) be given more information regarding the location of the kiosks where consumers can convert cash to crypto or vice versa in a public study released earlier this week. The government should have more insight into one of the ways people obtain crypto outside of the more tightly regulated exchanges, according to the GAO report. Crypto’s potential use in sex trafficking and drug dealing is one of the reasons why the government should have more insight into one of the ways people obtain crypto outside of the more tightly regulated exchanges.
While kiosk operators are already required to follow a number of laws (including registering with FinCEN, keeping transaction records, and collecting additional information for transactions exceeding $3,000), the GAO claims that government agencies are still unable to obtain a complete picture. Not only does the government have to deal with unregistered kiosk owners, but registered kiosk operators aren’t obligated to furnish a list of their kiosk locations. While businesses must provide FinCEN with precise information about a specific kiosk if the regulator demands it, according to GAO, the lack of geographical information makes it impossible to focus investigations on areas where drug or human trafficking activities is more likely.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO IDEA WHERE ALL THE KIOSKS ARE LOCATED.
Although this report has no legal standing, it is likely to have an impact on Congress. GAO provides neutral advice and information to Congress and other officials, frequently setting the tone for complicated new topics such as bitcoin. Lawmakers also had more access to the study; the public version refers to information that was contained in the original report, which was disclosed in December, but was too sensitive to be included in a broader release.
You can read the full public version of the GAO’s report here (pdf), which I suggest because it’s a thorough examination of the current condition of enforcement. It delves deeper into the marketplaces where people sell narcotics in exchange for cryptocurrency, as well as the websites where sex workers can obtain cryptocurrency in exchange for their services.
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Crypto kiosks have also been linked to other types of crime: the FBI recently published a public service announcement warning people about criminals exploiting ATMs to carry off a high-tech wire transfer fraud, tricking people into changing cash into crypto and sending it off under false pretenses. Crypto in general has been a key component of the ransomware business strategy, which FinCEN has been watching closely – last year, the regulator produced a report estimating that ransomware payments for 2021 will hit a billion dollars.
IN 2021, ADDRESSES LINKED TO ILLEGAL ACTIVITY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR ONLY A SMALL PART OF BLOCKCHAIN TRANSACTIONS.
According to research, illegal conduct accounts for only a small percentage of blockchain transactions. According to Chainalysis, a blockchain monitoring firm, addresses linked to criminal activity only carried out 0.15 percent of blockchain transactions in 2021. As Reuters points out, the amount is sure to rise as the government continues to track down offenders’ homes, but it’s a big drop from the unlawful activities % prediction for 2020.
The report comes as the government looks to be tightening its grip on unlicensed Bitcoin purchases. Federal investigators raided multiple Bitcoin vending machine operators in New Hampshire last year, accusing them of operating an unlawful money transmission company. The IRS has also asked lawmakers for expanded ability to monitor large bitcoin transactions, and a new tax reporting requirement for cryptocurrency miners was included in the recent infrastructure package.
Many of these attempts have been met with resistance from the crypto community; only this week, former Twitter CEO and Bitcoin supporter Jack Dorsey offered a legal fund to help Bitcoin developers defend themselves against “litigation and continuing threats.”