Bitcoins are being used by paedophiles to trade in videos of sickening child abuse, according to one of Europe’s top police officers.
Rob Wainwright the director of Europol, Europe’s premier law enforcement agency, said the untraceable nature of the online currency meant that paedophiles were able to trade images of child abuse and pay for live webcam shows, without fear of reprisal.
He said: ‘Sorry, but it’s happening online and it’s extremely difficult for us to identify.’
According to Wainwright, those that trade in videos of child abuse were hidden behind the smokescreen of the Bitcoin and, as a result, the content of the videos was becoming increasingly more deprived.
He said: ‘The level of depravity seems to be descending year on year, frankly, including what seems to be in vogue now, which is live webcam ‘shows’ of toddlers not just being raped but being burnt with cigarettes.”
This is another example of the controversial online currency, which is based on mathematical formulae and is independent from any national bank, being used to fund illegal activity.
In October last year, the website Silk Road was closed down by the FBI after it was found that users were able to trade in drugs and other illegal goods with Bitcoins and not be traced.
The suspected founder Ross William Ulbricht was arrested and the equivalent of $28 million worth of bitcoins were taken from him.
Nevertheless, despite some high-profile successes like this, Wainwright says authorities are still far behind where they should be in preventing Bitcoin-funded criminal activity.
Wainwright criticised the police slow response to the actions, saying that equivalent levels of crime in the real world would be ‘front page news.’
He told The Times: ‘It is frustrating that we are not getting the message out, at least not loud enough for legislators to hear it.’