This week, the news flits between the digital and real worlds as the UK and US commit to uniting in the fight against financial crime through cryptocurrencies; Portuguese authorities search the HQ of top-flight football club, FC Porto, over transfer fee breaches; and a virtual property sale sets a record.
Find out more on these stories below.
UK and US authorities agree to cooperate in fight against cybercrime and money laundering
The UK Home Secretary, Ms Priti Patel, and the Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), Ms Lisa Monaco, made the commitment at a recent high-level meeting in Washington, D.C. Delegates of the US National Security and Criminal Divisions also participated, indicating how seriously the US government takes the issue of combating ransomware, fraud, and money laundering through cryptocurrencies.
The meeting builds on the founding of the DoJ’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team in October 2021, which specialises in detecting and prosecuting criminals who exploit virtual currency exchanges to perpetrate ransomware, fraud, and money laundering.
The FBI Cyber Division echoed the sentiment in a November 2021 House Committee hearing, noting that ransomware attacks are lucrative targets for criminals because of high crypto prices.
Ms Patel, meanwhile, recently announced the UK government’s intention to publish a National Cyber Strategy to combat ransomware by the end of 2021.
Read more on this story at CFX Magazine.
Portuguese tax authorities search FC Porto’s HQ in relation to suspect player transfer deals
Portugal’s Departamento Central de Investigação e Ação Penal (DCIAP) searched the head office of the famous Premier League football club and its president, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, early this week. The swoop was one of about 30 such searches conducted by public prosecution service officers at properties in Lisbon and the city of Porto.
The search formed part of Operation Red Card, an initiative of the Portuguese authorities which investigates fraud, abuse of trust, money laundering, and swindling in the world of professional football. The operation saw former Benfica president, Luis Filipe Vieira, arrested and forced to resign in July 2021.
The DCIAP alleges that various financial crimes might have occurred in relation to €20m (£16.8m) worth of commissions paid on player transfer deals from 2017 to 2021. They explained in a statement that “the steps were made to collect evidence in an investigation of suspected crimes of tax fraud, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering, related to transfers of football players and financial circuits involving intermediaries in these businesses.”
Porto FC, meanwhile, has pledged its full cooperation with the investigation.
Read more on this story at The Guardian.
Plot of virtual land sells for record cryptocurrency amount
Based in an online world known as Decentraland, the parcel of virtual real estate fetched a sale price of $2.4m (£1.8m) worth of cryptocurrency from the buyer, Metaverse Group, a subsidiary of Tokens.com. According to Decentraland, the price paid for the 6,090 virtual square feet property is the highest of its kind yet seen on the platform. The buyers intend to host digital fashion events on it and sell virtual clothing to users’ avatars.
The Decentraland online environment- or metaverse- is a digital universe where avatars can interact, move around, visit buildings, and purchase property with the cryptocurrency, MANA. The digital items sold in Decentraland are known as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have elsewhere sold for as much as $69m (£51.7m). There has been an uptick in the market for metaverses during the global Covid-19 pandemic, as worldwide lockdowns have increased the amount of time that people spend online.
Speaking on behalf of the Centraland Foundation, Head of Content Sam Hamilton said “Fashion is the next massive area for growth in the metaverse, so it’s timely, and very exciting, that Metaverse Group has made such a decisive commitment with this land purchase in the heart of Decentraland’s fashion precinct.”
Read more on this story at Reuters.
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