Cyber Culture: If Al Capone had a digital money reserve...
Rhodri Marsden is the Technology Columnist for The Independent; he has also written about crumpets, Captain Beefheart, rude place names and string. He's also a musician who plays in the band Scritti Politti, and won the under-10 piano category at the 1980 Watford Music Festival by playing a piece called "Silver Trumpets" with verve and aplomb.
Wednesday 12 June 2013
The chances are that the recent shutdown of the payment service Liberty Reserve didn't impinge much on your consciousness, unless you have a habit of making no-questions-asked transactions online.
The arrest of its founder last week marks the beginning of what's been called the largest online money- laundering case in history, with an estimated $6bn (£3.8bn) of criminal proceeds funnelled through a payment system where anonymity was guaranteed. Unlike its squeaky-clean equivalent, Paypal, Liberty Reserve ignored the "know your customer" rules that financial services must comply with to verify the integrity of each transaction; all it asked for was an email address. This was the digital equivalent of brown envelopes stuffed with £20 notes.
Anti-fraud investigators will have their work cut out to stamp out anonymous payment systems completely, however. There's huge demand for them among the criminal fraternity, and their transfers will have simply moved across to other payment services such as WebMoney, Perfect Money and cashU. "If Al Capone [pictured] were alive today," said an IRS spokesman, "[Liberty Reserve] is where he would be hiding his money."
But go forward a few decades, when cash has become obsolete. In the wake of the NSA scandal, where we're left wondering what privacy we really have, it'll be to the likes of Liberty Reserve that we turn to hide the paper trail of our whims and deviations. Today Al Capone, tomorrow you and I.
Life & Style blogs
Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
Watching TV after work makes you feel 'guilty and like a failure'
Alien: Isolation preview - If you scream in space, it makes a sound
Xiaomi Mi4: 'Chinese Apple' launches flagship mobile to challenge iPhone
How much independence should children have?
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
- 1 Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 50 books for students to read this summer: From Ernest Hemingway to Gillian Flynn
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...