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The South Korean Customs Service reported on the detection of illegal foreign exchange transactions involving digital currencies in the amount of 812.2 billion won, equivalent to about $687 million, from January to August 2021.
The total volume of illegal foreign exchange transactions detected in 78 criminal cases exceeded 1.2 trillion won (about $960 million), according to data obtained by the South Korean publication Yonhap News from the country's customs service. Of these, more than 812.2 billion won were in cryptocurrencies.
This is about 40 times more than the previous year's figure of 20.4 billion won or $16.3 million. As for the amount of illegal foreign exchange transactions in 2020, it amounted to 718.9 billion won, although in 2019 this amount was on the verge of an anti-record 3.45 trillion won or $2.76 billion dollars at today's exchange rate. The decline was significantly influenced by the reduction in the volume of currency moved between countries due to COVID-19.
Yonhap News reported that cybercriminals are using cryptocurrencies to bypass currency restrictions imposed by local laws. They receive foreign currency from their foreign clients, after which they purchase Bitcoins for it on South Korean exchanges, and then convert these funds into cash and send them to the final recipient.
Another “motivating” factor for the growth of illegal cryptocurrency transactions was the “kimchi premium”, which implies the sale of Bitcoin at higher prices in South Korea.
A spokesman for the National Assembly's Planning and Finance Committee stressed that officials need to develop an effective strategy to curb illegal foreign exchange transactions. Since there is already a tendency towards an increase in their scale in the second half of 2021.
Over the past four years, the situation with cryptocurrency fraud in the country has been disappointing. During this period, the attackers managed to gain more than $5 billion in digital currency equivalent from the South Koreans, and the most notorious case was the machinations of a group of 14 people who lured more than $3.5 billion from 69,000 citizens.
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