New Delhi: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has warned governments that crowd-funding, with e-wallets, virtual currency bitcoin, online payment systems such as PayPal, CashU, and social media networks are fast becoming fundraising spaces for terrorist outfits.
Terrorist outfits are suspected to be using largescale crowd-funding to generate money to undertake attacks. The FATF, in its latest report, “Emerging Terrorist Financing Risks”, noted that several cases indicated that the donors did not know the end use of the collected funds. The new trend may replace traditional terror-financing methods like private donations, use of charity organisations, fund transfers and hawala.
FATF said crowd-funding advertisements are usually placed in thematic websites, closed online forums and in private messages. Citing an input from Russian agencies, FATF said largescale crowd-funding was organised where a group had registered numerous e-wallets, credit cards and mobile phone numbers under the pretext of collecting donations for Syrian refugees.
The US Secret Service has observed that criminals are looking for and finding virtual currencies that offer anonymity for both users and transactions, the ability to move illicit proceeds from one country to another quickly, low volatility, which results in lower exchange risk, widespread adoption in the criminal underground; and reliability.
On August 28 this year Ali Shukri Amin was charged for providing instructions to new terror recruits on how to use bitcoins to mask the provision of funds to terror outfit, ISIS, as well as facilitation to ISIS supporters seeking to travel to Syria and Iraq. Some cases involving low-value transactions via online payment systems such as PayPal have also been linked to a number of terror suspects.
The FATF said social networks are being used to coordinate fundraising campaigns where largescale and well-organised fundraising schemes may involve up to several thousand ‘sponsors’ and may raise significant amounts of cash.
Terror outfits are reaching out to a large audience through a peer-to-peer horizontal communication that starts on chats and forums, goes on through social networks. Sometimes WhatsApp and Viber are being used.
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