Stephen Collie Enterprises New Zealand

Bitcoin is a prime avenue for laundering money. At least that’s the narrative the mainstream media has been feeding the public. Money laundering is probably as old as the invention of money itself. By definition, to launder cash is to make ill-gotten gains appear as if it were all earned legitimately, regardless of whether you’re the leader of a drug smuggling ring, a warlord, or simply can’t help yourself to your rich aunt’s purse.

The anonymity of the internet has emboldened fraudsters into ever-more intricate ways of getting their loot out of the hands of the authorities. And to their credit, the ingenuity of some scammers is mind-boggling. As a cryptocurrency enthusiast, it pays to keep your eyes on the ball if you’re going to be playing around with the technology. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some cryptocurrency crime making the rounds and see what you can do to stay safe.

The Bitcoin Money Laundering Scams

Sim Swapping

In a digital world, society has become accustomed to using devices for identity management. This typically means validating your private accounts, like banking and cryptocurrency exchanges, via smartphone. Sim swapping is a fairly new form of fraud in which impersonators contact your phone provider hoping to transfer your mobile number to another SIM card they’ve recently acquired.

Sim Card Money Laundering

Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.

The confident tricksters lay the foundation for this type of scam through social engineering. They gather as much personal information about you as possible before contacting a company representative, answering security questions along the way.

If you’ve ever had to deal with these security question personally, you’ll know they’re not particularly difficult to answer. Sim swapping is quite lucrative for Bitcoin launderers because it allows them to move illicit funds through legitimate accounts, at least temporarily.

What to Do About It

Whenever you use your phone to authenticate your identity, you’re using something called two-factor authentication (or 2FA, for short). Unfortunately many services, including banking, still rely on SMS for authentication. Obviously, SMS is subject to the sim swapping risks mentioned above.

More secure methods like authenticator apps or hardware devices are highly recommended for sensitive accounts. A fraudster would have to physically get a hold of your device before they could impersonate you. Not impossible but much more secure. Check out our detailed 2FA article for more details.


Ransomware typically involves hackers gaining access to an unsuspecting victim’s computer. In severe cases, however, it can affect an entire city’s infrastructure. Once an attacker gains access to your machine, they will encrypt your data and demand a ransom to unlock it. Payment is usually required in crypto. Though, savvy readers will know that Bitcoin isn’t particularly anonymous to begin with. But that won’t stop the scammers as there are a multitude of coins out there and different ways to cover your tracks.

A severe example of this occurred in 2017 when the WannaCry cryptoworm targeted computers running Windows operating systems. The attack affected an incredible 200,000 computers across 150 countries before Microsoft was able to patch the problem.

Countries Affected by WannCry


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

What to Do About It

The most important way to protect against this kind of extortion is to practice healthy internet hygiene. Yes, you read correctly. Taking care of your personal health involves hard work. Exercise, healthy eating, adequate sleep, etc. The same attitude applies when using the web.

Don’t post sensitive information on social media channels, back up valuable data like photos and work documents to external devices on a regular basis, educate yourself on the latest phishing scams, and keep your system updated. You get the picture.

Unregulated Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Blockchain tracking outfit CipherTrace estimates that around $2.5 billion worth of dirty Bitcoin has been washed clean through unregulated exchanges. These exchanges do not comply with Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering laws. According to one CipherTrace study, unregulated exchanges also received the most amount of laundered Bitcoin.

In addition, over the counter services and decentralized exchanges also offer users an opportunity to exchange crypto in an anonymous fashion. Many of these services are difficult to track. However, liquidity can be an issue, preventing large transfers from taking place. Measuring these services’ impact on Bitcoin money laundering is difficult at best.

What to Do About It

Hardcore crypto enthusiasts love to complain about centralized services and corrupt authorities. If you’ve ever been subject to scams or crypto-related crime, you’ll know that regulated authorities have one major benefit: you have a higher chance of reclaiming your funds.

Stick to reputable exchanges. There’s a much lower chance your account could be hijacked for laundering purposes.

The Cleaning

These are just a few examples of how criminals obtain dirty money in the first place. But how do they clean it? A common approach is called mixing. Bitcoin mixers apparently clean dirty crypto by bouncing it between several wallet addresses before recombining the full amount. The final address often ends up on the dark web, which is difficult to trace. This process is also called tumbling and various providers offer this as a service, for a fee of course.

It’s important to note that research has found this approach to be quite ineffective for Bitcoin money laundering. It’s not surprising then that other coins like Monero have sprung up to offer serious privacy features where Bitcoin fails. As for other methods beyond mixing, who knows. The experts may never reveal their secrets.

Bitcoin Money Laundering – Final Thoughts

Bitcoin is still a young technology with a relatively small market cap in comparison to traditional currencies. The majority of people, including criminals, earn in fiat currencies like the dollar or euro, first and foremost. The mainstream media may be missing the entire point when it comes to the whole Bitcoin money laundering debate.

In other words, it’s important to make a distinction. Just about anything can be used to launder money: cars, businesses, property, crypto, or even rich aunt purses. Bitcoin is just a tool, a medium of exchange.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater isn’t a viable solution. If that were the case, society would’ve been burning $100 bills at the fireplace every evening. That said, as highlighted above, there are obviously still risks when dealing with crypto. Make sure you’re not on that laundry list.

This article by Ryan Smith was previously published on

About the Author:

Ryan Smith is a web designer, writer, and cryptocurrency trader who hails from sunny South Africa. He eats, breathes and lives crypto. With personal experience in foreign exchange & crypto market trading he is always trying to understand the bigger economic picture. When not meticulously looking over charts he can be found planning his next road trip or running around a 5-a-side soccer field.

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

What is SelfKey?

SelfKey is a self-proclaimed identity management platform that allows individuals and organizations to keep full control of their identity. The creators have introduced a concept known as the Self-Sovereign Identity (SSID).

The SelfKey foundation manages the project and plans to govern it based on principles of self-sovereign identity. In other words, the core theme for users of the network is to limit risk by storing and managing sensitive data themselves.

The internet has made the world a smaller place. With a few words and a click of a button, you can send messages tens of thousands of miles in only a few seconds. While that obviously means an easier life in many respects, it also introduces a new set of problems for the modern person.

Identity theft is a growing issue worldwide. Results from the Federal Trade Commission and private consulting group Javelin reveal that fraud victims in the US were up 8% in 2017 alone. Recent data leaks from Facebook and Google, considered by many as the darlings of the tech revolution, haven’t helped either.

Blockchain just might be the solution here, and fortunately, several startups have emerged and are racing to get in front of the problem. In this article, we’ll cover one of these popular projects known as SelfKey:

  • How Does it Work?
  • Project Details
  • Trading History & Sentiment
  • Where to Buy and Store
  • Advantages
  • Risks
  • Final Thoughts

How Does it Work?


Documents are shared with third parties using public/private key cryptography similar to that used in pioneer projects like Bitcoin. This ensures that these parties only have access to personal data when users specifically grant them access.

In addition, SelfKey has built a claims protocol which allows only the necessary information (like age, nationality, or gender for example) to be shared with third parties as and when needed. This should prevent the overflow of information between parties which often leads to data leaks and potential identity theft problems.

Project Details

The SelfKey project evolved out of several startup accelerators to become an organization known as KYC-Chain. The company enables organizations and individuals to better manage their know-your-customer (KYC) processes. The logical next step for the company was to raise funds in the ICO market and SelfKey was born. KYC remains a hot topic for the emerging cryptocurrency industry.

The Team

The team page is well-documented and provides a breath of fresh air compared to a host of other cryptocurrency startups out there. Most profiles have LinkedIn profiles attached – a good sign.

Selfkey Core Team

Edmund Lowell is the founding member of SelfKey and previously founded KYC-Chain as mentioned previously. His skills merge the fields of finance, technology, and law. These days, however, most of his time is spent recruiting the right members to keep the SelfKey project on course.

We won’t analyze all profiles here as the team is quite extensive. We will, however, provide a snapshot here of the core members in each of the other development, legal, and advisory teams:

Selfkey Design Team Selfkey Legal Team Selfkey Advisory Team



SelfKey already has a growing number of partners including notable mentions from established projects like Kyber Network and Polymath. It’s worth highlighting, though, that their partnership with Standard & Chartered Bank out of Singapore is what got people in the industry to stand up and notice. Together they manage KYC for token sales and Fintech startups around the world.


No official roadmap appears to have been given before the ICO. There is, however, a fair amount of update and progress tracking on their site for a roadmap from early 2018. Other than updates from Lowell, potential investors will want to keep their eyes on the remaining goals for 2018 which include the Cryptocurrency Exchanges Marketplace, Key Token Staking Functionality, SelfKey Browser Extension, and the Incorporations Marketplace.

Selfkey Goals

Trading History & Sentiment

Selfkey review and community sentiment on the web remains mixed. Some Reddit posts have suggested that the project may be nothing other than a pump-and-dump scheme. On the other hand, many other Reddit threads are hailing it as an innovative solution which may completely change the nature of the identity management landscape.

It’s particularly difficult to determine the value of projects like these in their early stages of development. Add to that the bear market which has played out year-to-date in 2018 and you may wonder about the long-term viability of SelfKey.

The KEY token was listed on exchanges earlier this year and has unfortunately performed quite poorly against other assets. After SelfKey news of the Binance listing in July, prices moved sharply higher. Prices have since fallen back to even lower levels than before the listing.

Many investors will want to see consistent strength from buyers before adding the token to their crypto portfolio.

SelfKey Price on

Where to Buy and Store

SelfKey Price on

KEY Token

The KEY token runs the SelfKey ecosystem and was used as the primary way to fund the project. The token allows you to verify documents, access the network, and buy additional services via the SelfKey marketplace. It’s listed on several reputable exchanges including Binance, KuCoin, and OKEx. This is an important point since the bulk of new traders/investors will be found at these places of purchase.

Symbol: KEY
Specification: ERC20
Network: Ethereum
Circulating Supply: 2,400,000,000 KEY
Total Supply: 6,000,000,000 KEY

As with most new tokens, you won’t be able to buy it on fiat-to-crypto exchanges just yet. So you’ll have to get hold of some Bitcoin or Ethereum first and then transfer to the exchanges listed above before grabbing some.

Identity Wallet

SelfKey has created their own storage solution known as the SelfKey identity wallet which allows users to store, manage, and authorize documents. The wallet also provides additional features like cryptocurrency management and a marketplace for your typical administration – things like bank accounts, setting up a business, or passport control.

SelfKey Wallet



Decentralizing identity management is a huge step forward in preventing identity fraud. Centralized record keeping can be really wasteful and time consuming with traditional paper methods. More importantly, however, is removing the possibility of the so-called “honeypot” from the equation.

When a large number of records are stored in one location this naturally draws the attention of thieves looking to score big. In a decentralized scenario, hackers would need to break into many individual accounts to get the same payday. In most cases, this is just not worth the hassle.

One Time KYC

Know Your Customer is a pretty annoying requirement in the cryptocurrency space. Traders and investors often have accounts with several exchanges. Having to verify each one can be an incredibly time-consuming process. Think back to the end of 2017 when exchanges were turning customers away due to high demand and limited customer resources.

SelfKey would effectively do away with this by creating a verify once process. Once a certifier has validated an initial KYC claim, users can validate that proof just about everywhere with a few clicks of a mouse. This kind of scalability will be necessary for the future. Cryptocurrency markets are forecasted to grow and more people are bringing their identities online than ever before.


The Middleman Bottleneck

According to SelfKey, the network is highly dependent on third-party certifiers to verify identity claims. This works almost exactly the same way we do today, except by making the process more efficient on the blockchain. Lawyers, bankers, accountants, and government authorities, amongst others, as usual, are eligible to be certifiers.

This, however, doesn’t really address the issue of decentralization which is fundamental to building any project with blockchain tech. In other words, these certifiers are still middlemen and the potential bottleneck of the system. Unfortunately, certifiers still have excessive power which can be used to abuse the system. This can be illustrated by the recent arrest of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) senior lawyer in Seattle.

Certifiers are still the bottleneck. These kinds of systems will only work if they are open to audit from the public. This is one of the biggest challenges when trying to merge decentralized blockchain solutions with traditional centralized processes.

Lack of Simplicity

The SelfKey website and whitepaper are not easy to follow. If users are going to trust in the possibilities of a blockchain future we need to make it easy for them to understand and adopt the technology. You can always explain great services in an easy way. Many cryptocurrency projects, however, suffer from very technical examples and convoluted explanations. SelfKey, unfortunately, falls in this category.

Final Thoughts

Nobody should deny that identity management is an area of the modern era that needs some serious attention. The anonymity of the internet makes it super easy for trolls, hackers, confidence tricksters, and fraudsters to attack from miles away. This begs the question of how jurisdictions of the world will function in the future.

Central authorities may not have many options as these kinds of problems cross international borders. Blockchain doesn’t stop at the border, however. And SelfKey is in a prime position to capitalize on this advantage. It does, however, already have serious competition from the likes of Civic and The Key. Who will come out on top? Just like the rest of us, you’ll have to stick around to find out.

More information on the project can be found on the following channels:

This article by Ryan Smith was previously published on

About the Author:

Ryan is a web developer, writer, and cryptocurrency trader who hails from sunny South Africa. He eats, breathes and lives crypto. He has experience trading in the foreign exchange markets and is always trying to understand the bigger economic picture. When not meticulously looking over charts he can be found planning his next road trip or running around a 5-a-side soccer field.

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© 2018 Stephen Collie Enterprises