US Election Inquiry Stirs Up Online Backlash
A group of Russian military intelligence officers indicted recently as they were found guilty of staging hacking incidents in the 2016 presidential election using bitcoin to finance their illicit acts.
Prosecutors said 12 intelligence officers perpetrated computer networks and email accounts owned and used by the US Democratic Party which include Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the party’s official presidential candidate.
Based on the indictment released recently, these officials connived “to launder the equivalent of $95,000 through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.”
“In an effort to pay for their efforts around the world … the defendants paid for it with cryptocurrency,” Rod Rosenstein, deputy US Attorney General, said during a press briefing.
Defendants “principally used bitcoin when purchasing servers, registering domains, and otherwise making payments in furtherance of hacking activity” although they allegedly used other currencies such as the US dollar.
“In addition to mining bitcoin, the Conspirators acquired bitcoin through a variety of means designed to obscure the origin of the funds. This included purchasing bitcoin through exchanges, moving funds through other digital currencies, and using pre-paid cards. They also enlisted the assistance of one or more third-party exchanges who facilitated layered transactions through digital currency exchange platforms providing heightened anonymity,” the document reads.
They used “dedicated email accounts” to trail bitcoin transaction details and process payments, as well as used the same computers they utilize in hacking several email accounts.
The indictment has sparked a social media fuss, which the industry finds not surprising at all.
Investor Simon Mikhailovich mentioned the indictment and the FBI managing to document nearly every step of the perpetrators should remind all investors their blockchain activities are easily tracked.
“One implication of the just announced indictments is that NOTHING online is anonymous, including crypto payments. If professional GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) officers could not conceal their identities, activities & payments, civilians have no choice. Act accordingly,” he said.
“I’ve been warning of the potential dangers of @Bitcoin being used by nefarious actors. Now, we know Russia used #cryptocurrency to fund their meddling campaign in 2016. The #crypto industry needs to steps their game up. @blockchain @BTCFoundation @DigitalChamber,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said in his Twitter post.
Naturally, the lawmaker’s tweet irked some Twitter users.
“Corrupt politician expresses concern over hackers who exposed vast political corruption within his own party. They rigged their own primary election and somehow it’s Bitcoin’s fault. Mr Cleaver and his associates are a bunch of corrupt idiots,” Twitter user @BashCo_ said.
“GRU used cryptocurrency to pay for hacking. Say goodbye to your Bitcoin value,” Twitter user @dharmawheelies said. Meanwhile, Twitter user @BerniesHomie said: “Tin foil hat: That Bitcoin bubble of 2016-2017 was Russia laundering money?”
Then, Twitter user @sarahjeong took a trip down memory lane in her post: “2014, Mt Gox meltdown: Wow, bitcoin really jumped the shark this year! 2015, Silk Road trial: Wow, bitcoin really jumped the shark this year! 2016, Bitfinex hack: Wow, hmm yes. 2017, ICO bubble: OK we’ve reached rock bottom yes? 2018, bitcoin implicated in Mueller probe.”
Another made a speculation. “A few thoughts: latest Mueller indictment carefully crafted, piles pressure on #Putin-#Trump ahead of Monday’s Helsinki summit. The 2016 DNC hack a classic #GRU operation, featuring career spies, deception, crypto-currency and a third-party cut-out: WikiLeaks,” Twitter user @lukeharding1968 said.
Some made a fun out of the recent development.
“the real question is when GRU will roll out its Initial Coin Offering, and whether the SEC will consider it a security,” Twitter user @dariustahir said. For @ButtCoin, “time to drone strike mining farms imo.”