Research by Melbourne’s RMIT University estimated that Australian criminals who used cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, in their schemes received harsher sentences than those who used fiat money.

The study outlined the role of digital assets on the Dark Web, stating that they are among the top payment methods supported there.

Less Mercy for Criminals Using Crypto

The analysis reviewed 59 cases involving people who have used cryptocurrency in their crimes between 2013 and 2022. Almost 80% were linked to drug trafficking, while the remaining charges included money laundering and firearms.

Lisanne Adam, co-author of the study, said that judges saw digital assets as a sophisticated factor in crimes and therefore punished wrongdoers with harsher punishments:

“One of the reasons for this is that cryptocurrency is the only method of payment on dark web markets, and sentencing judges are eager to send a message to deter would-be offenders.”

He further explained that digital assets are attractive to criminals because they have the ability to facilitate “smooth global transfers without the friction of the traditional banking system and in a way that can be difficult to identify.”

However, Adam believes that magistrates need to adapt to new technology and hand down relevant sentences based on the crimes and not the payment methods used:

“There is a risk that cryptocurrency will be characterized by law enforcement prosecutors as a marker of sophistication in crime, which is not always the case. Law enforcement must effectively determine the level of sophistication of the crime and present a fair case.”

Crypto becomes more popular in Australia

A recent Independent Reserve study certain that over 25% of Australians (as of late 2022) were HODLers. The asset class is much more intriguing for the younger generation, with 40% of respondents aged 25-34 having some exposure to cryptocurrencies. By comparison, less than 10% of those 65 and older have jumped on the bandwagon.

Crypto awareness was also at a high level in the Land Down Under. Bitcoin remained the most recognizable digital currency, with 90.8% of participants aware of its existence. Around 43% had some knowledge of Ethereum, while the next most famous assets were Dogecoin (DOGE), Cardano (ADA), Ripple (XRP), Solana (SOL), and Tether (USDT).

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