There has been a recent spike in Bitcoin prices, as we have witnessed an increase of over eight-fold since the previous year alone. This, in turn, has brought blockchain as well as cryptocurrency in terms of usage and discourse to the attention of mainstream audiences.
However, it must also be stated that while cryptocurrency has certainly grown more popular, so too have crimes related to it. These are not new, of course, and have existed for quite some time now, but perhaps the largest number of crypto-related criminal activities has indeed been taking place in China as compared to the rest of the world. China is also currently the leader when it comes to implementing a digital version of a national currency, in its case, the digital Yuan, as CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) begin to become more common worldwide.
ICOs banned, but crypto crimes and scams remain active
It is not uncommon to hear about various individuals being taken advantage of in China due to their naivete about cryptocurrency. Numerous companies are there which may utilize blockchain technology for their day-to-day activities and purposes may also simultaneously exploit clients and customers who are not too familiar with the term or how it actually works.
Furthermore, although ICOs (initial coin offerings) had been banned in China in 2018, there had been a number of token-based projects that sought to lure investors in any way, effectively ignoring the ban altogether. Over 750 types of various ‘zero tokens’ had been discovered, and none of these had been backed by real initiatives, nor had they managed to maintain more than 1% of the original value for long following their creation. Additionally, just over 100 kinds of different token projects had also been identified, and most of these were either Ponzi schemes or pyramid sales.
The Chinese government has since shut down six crypto trading platforms and have also expelled over 200 overseas trading platforms dealing in cryptocurrency.
Chinese authorities get increasingly worried about crypto-related crimes
As aforementioned, China leads the world in terms of CBDCs, and as such, has drawn some interest regarding the DCEP (Digital Currency, Electronic Payment) project. Chinese citizens are quite familiar with paying for products and services electronically, but this has also, unfortunately, led some to take advantage of this familiarity, especially when it comes to the digital Yuan.
These scammers have since utilized DCEP for the purposes of selling their own projects and crypto-related schemes. It proved difficult to differentiate between what was legitimate and what was not due to these individuals boasting that the projects were both associated with DCEP and also had support from the PBOC.