The United States Justice Department released an indictment identifying certain Russian nationals as responsible for misleading American citizens during the dates leading to the 2016 US presidential election. The charges were part of an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller which is looking into Russian interference in the election. According to the indictment, thirteen Russian nationals and 3 Russian groups were involved in alleged campaigns to misinform the American public via social media, specifically through Twitter and Facebook.
The Russians reportedly stole home addresses, social security numbers and other personal information from American citizens in order to create fake Paypal accounts, purchase bogus driver’s license and be involved in cryptocurrency exchanges. Specific details were not available on what the cryptocurrency accounts were utilized for. The only information available showed that the accounts in Paypal were created to buy Facebook ads that were intended to provide the American public misinformation.
Back in July, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the United States Treasury gave BTC-e, a Russia-based cryptocurrency exchange, a $110 million fine due to “transactions involving ransomware, computer hacking, identity theft, tax refund fraud schemes, public corruption, and drug trafficking.” Though the said exchange shut down, Coindesk claims that it seemed to have been revived as WEX – a new exchange which claims “it did not receive any funds from BTC-e”. It also declared, “.. it would abide by anti-money laundering and know-your-customer laws.”
Paypal has expressed that it is fully cooperating with authorities to prevent its services from being used in an illegal manner. Its statement declared that the company is “intensely focused on combating and preventing the illicit use of our services. We work closely with law enforcement, and did so in this matter, to identify, investigate and stop improper or potentially illegal activity.” Due to the investigation, Paypal advised its customers that money transfers could experience a probable delay. A possible delay may also be experienced by Venmo – Paypal’s mobile payment app.