According to a study conducted by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australian criminals using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin in their illegal activities have received more severe punishments compared to those using fiat currency.
The study highlights the growing use of digital assets on the Dark Web and claims that they are one of the main payment methods available on these platforms.
Harsher Sentences for Crypto-Using Criminals
The analysis reviewed 59 cases involving the use of cryptocurrencies in criminal activities between 2013 and 2022, with nearly 80% of them linked to drug trafficking, and the remaining charges included money laundering and firearms.
Co-author of the study, Lisanne Adam, explains that judges view the use of digital assets as a sophisticated factor in these crimes, leading to tougher punishments, as digital currencies are the only method of payment available on dark web marketplaces.
“One reason for this is that cryptocurrency is the only method of payment on dark web marketplaces, and sentencing judges are keen to send a message to deter potential offenders.”
However, Adam believes that judges need to understand the technology better and give sentences based on the crime committed rather than the payment method used.
“There is a risk that law enforcement prosecutors characterize cryptocurrency as a marker of sophistication in crime, which is not always the case. Law enforcement need to effectively determine the level of sophistication in the crime and present a fair case.”
Cryptocurrencies More Popular in Australia
A recent Independent Reserve study found that over 25% of Australians were HODLers by the end of 2022. The younger generations are more interested in this asset class, with 40% of respondents aged between 25-34 having some exposure to cryptocurrency. In comparison, less than 10% of those above 65 years old have invested in cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin remains the most well-known digital currency in Australia, with 90.8% of participants being aware of its existence. Ethereum is the second most popular asset with around 43% having some knowledge about it, followed by Dogecoin, Cardano, Ripple, Solana, and Tether.