Bawa: $20m worth of cryptocurrencies recovered, 1,436 cybercriminals arrested in 6 months

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The Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, says $20 million worth of cryptocurrencies have so far been recovered from cybercriminals.

Bawa further stated that 1,436 suspected cybercriminals have been arrested across the nation between January and June 3, 2021.

He made the disclosure on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ on Tuesday.

Bawa said that the suspected criminals were using digital currencies to launder their proceeds of crime.

The EFCC boss’s revelation came months after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered commercial banks to close the accounts of individuals and organisations involved in crypto transactions on their systems.

According to Bawa, cybercriminals have migrated from using money transfer agencies like Money Gram and Western Union to using digital currencies to make detection more difficult.

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“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 avenue to get their proceeds of crime.

“Before, it used to be through money transfer agencies like Money Gram and Western Union. 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-wallets 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 own 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 for 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.

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