Blockchain Industry has a wide range of potential. It can be used in different sectors and by various countries for many different reasons, out of which some are good while some are bad. But, the latest fascinating and most incredible use of blockchain is in tracking criminal activities on the blockchain.
Ben Strickland, who is an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) investigator tracks crypto transactions with the help of OSINT techniques. They are skilled of linking such transactions to terrorist or various other organizations who may have done the transactions.
Ben mentioned a situation in which he discovered a cryptocurrency address used by jihadists to request funds on the social media was linked with a South African Kidnapper, mentioning that any data on the YouTube, blockchain data, satellite imagery or social media posts can be utilized as open source data to track criminal organizations or individuals online.
When he was asked why he is carrying out a criminal investigation using the blockchain. He decided to do this because a wide number of cases are added daily in cryptocrimes. He also mentioned a website, known as Bitcoinwhoswho, which uses bitcoin addresses to identify scammers. Moreover, 10 cases of blackmail alone are reported on the website daily.
“It is important to realize that this is what the power of the blockchain is supposed to be. As much as it is a free market, unregulated and decentralised, the power of the blockchain should be that someone like me, from the comfort of my home on my laptop, with no formal training, can identify any wrongdoing on the blockchain.”
During his investigation, Strickland had discovered various scammers along with Facebook users. He also described how he examined the website and many linked Facebook accounts which work together to scam innocent users. The account includes images of bitcoin addresses they use in order to scam users which Strickland stated that he discovered on the blockchain with suspicious transaction histories.
He first began to run searches on Google and Reddit about the linked bitcoin addresses and discovered a comment nearly a scam Facebook account including one of the addresses he had stated:
“I looked through the alleged Facebook account. It was pictures of the guy and his girlfriend from the UK, but he was cashing his bitcoin out in South African Rand. In other images, he was posting pictures of handfuls of US dollars and statements on ‘how I can make you the next bitcoin millionaire.'”
After this, he discovered multiple other Facebook accounts with the same setup which truly offered each other help and guidance on how to scam their victims and praise each other's success.
Strickland had previously reported a web page known as Sadaqcoins, only created as a crowdfunding platform to buy weapons and fund the training of the jihadist militia. He has also released an article on his “open source” investigation of jihadists, scammers and kidnappers.