Seven individuals have been detained in Rio de Janerio this week, as police officials have pounced upon a new money-siphoning scheme that has ultimately diverted public funds worth some $22.4 million USD.
The operation, which saw state officials siphoned off money originally intended for prison supplies, converted stolen funds to Bitcoin for ease of transportation and anonymity.
Agência Brasil reports that the scheme, which has been operating since 2001, only recently made a pivot to Bitcoin – Superintendent of the Internal Revenue Service in Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Henrique Casemiro, quipped that “We drew attention, in the Federal Revenue, regarding this specific operation, because for the first time operations (involved) bitcoin”.
The sting has seen warrants issued for several suspects, and has seen local police forces issued with warrants to search some 28 sites. Former police chief Marcelo Martins and the former head of Brazil’s prison system, Cesar Rubens Monteiro Carvalho, have been arrested as a result.
The news marks the latest incident in cryptocurrency-fuelled crime. While the syndicate involved leveraged Bitcoin to easily transport captured assets, Europol recently warned that ‘hardcore criminals’ have begun to shift their approach and have abandoned Bitcoin for darkcoins such as Monero, Zcash, and Dash.
Brazil’s apprehended money-siphoning racket is perhaps significant for the fact that it has bucked that trend – Europol further outlined in a recent bulleting that hardcore criminals have often shifted their use between multiple cryptocurrencies in a bid to hide their activities from investigators; a move which has not as yet been uncovered as intent from the Rio de Janerio-racket.
Local reports have confirmed that the investigation is still ongoing, and new facts may emerge in time.
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