Nigeria Recovered $20m worth of Cryptocurrency from Cybercriminal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reported that the commission had recovered $20 million worth of cryptocurrency from cybercriminals. The Chairman of the commission Abdulrasheed Bawa says the commission sees cryptocurrency as an avenue where criminals launder proceeds of crime.

The report was contained when he appeared on the local TV program Sunrise Daily on Channels Television Programme. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had issued a directive that banks should close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions within their systems.

“As it is today, there is nowhere in the world where cryptocurrency is being regulated. The EFCC is looking at cryptocurrency as an avenue where people are laundering their proceeds of crime,” – he said.

Where people are receiving proceeds of crime, and that is our worry. We have seen again and again how cybercriminals are using it as an opportunity to get proceeds of crime. Before, it used to be through money transfers agencies like Money Gram and Western Union, and now they have gone E. They will defraud somebody and get gift cards and exchange in dark webs, and use the proceeds to buy crypto, and then, of course, get it into their e-wallet, and they can sell and get their money. As it is now today, we have about $20 million worth of cryptocurrency. Because we also created our crypto wallet to recover cryptocurrency. We are now recovering the proceeds of crime. We are in support of what the CBN has done because it has reduced the ease with which these criminals can get cryptocurrency and get naira for it.

“I believe we will not be left behind when it comes to ensuring that laws and regulations are put in place to checkmate the excesses of cryptocurrency,” – Bawa said.

From January to June 3, 2021, 1 436 suspected cybercriminals have been arrested across the country. According to the statistics, the EFCC has arrested 1436 suspected cybercriminals across the federation.

Meanwhile, across Africa, Nigeria is the epicentre of cryptocurrency users. And leading on search related to cryptocurrency and bitcoin on Google search trends 2020. In contrast, millions of Nigerians hold crypto and digital currency transactions according to different trading platforms such as Bitsika, Binance, and Paxful. While the recent ban by the apex bank of Nigeria has seen peer-to-peer (P2P) user’s increase on the different crypto platforms. Based on Binance research, it had seen an over 2000 per cent increase in the number of peer-to-peer (P2P) users in Africa from January to April 2021.

In addition, the recent survey conducted by Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency trading platform, has shown that there are three reasons Africans invest in crypto. The research fifty-five (55) per cent said they own crypto as part of a long-term investment strategy, 38 per cent doesn’t trust the current financial system, and 31 per cent see crypto as a short-term trading opportunity.

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