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Huione Guarantee in Cambodia Linked to Crypto Scams and Money Laundering: Elliptic Report

by BSC News

July 10, 2024

chain

The platform has been identified as a significant player in the "pig butchering" scam industry, where victims are tricked into investing in fake cryptocurrency schemes.

Huione Guarantee, an online marketplace operated by the Cambodian conglomerate Huione Group, has been implicated in facilitating large-scale online scams and money laundering activities involving cryptocurrencies. 

According to a recent Elliptic Research report, the platform has engaged in transactions exceeding $11 billion, with a significant portion linked to illicit activities.

 

Tether is one of the most popular payment options on the site, which also supports various payment apps and bank transfers.

A Hub for Pig Butchering Scams

The Elliptic report highlights that a majority of transactions on Huione Guarantee are connected to "pig butchering" scams. These scams involve social engineering tactics to defraud victims by convincing them to transfer funds to fake investment schemes. 

 

Tom Robinson, Elliptic’s cofounder and chief scientist, described Huione Guarantee as a major marketplace for online scammers, noting that no other platform of its kind operates on such a large scale.

 

Huione Guarantee offers a wide range of products and services catering to scammers. These include shock-enabled GPS tracking shackles and electric batons used in human trafficking operations, data on potential scam targets, fake investment websites, and deepfake face-altering services. 

 

The platform also advertises money laundering services that help liquidate and obfuscate the origins of stolen Tether, a popular stablecoin used for transactions.

Connections to Larger Operations

Huione Guarantee is part of the larger Huione Group, which operates a payments app called Huione Pay and has ties to Southeast Asian insurance, airline, and real estate industries. 

 

The Elliptic report alleges that Huione executives have connections to Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Manet, and that the company turns a blind eye to the illicit activities conducted on its platform.

 

Elliptic’s findings include screenshots of conversations between merchants and clients discussing money laundering services and other criminal activities. As per reports, there seems to be a willingness to launder proceeds of pig butchering scams, a scheme that has become increasingly common and lucrative, generating an estimated $75 billion from 2020 to 2023.

Forced Labor and Exploitation

The report also highlights the exploitation of workers in scam compounds across Southeast Asia. These compounds, often located in countries like Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, force individuals to live and work under harsh conditions, generating content to deceive scam victims. 

 

The United States Institute of Peace has found that these industrial-scale scam compounds are rapidly spreading across the region.

A Growing Threat

The scale and sophistication of the pig butchering scams pose a significant threat to the global financial system. The FBI reported that crypto-investment fraud losses in the US reached $3.94 billion in 2023. The widespread use of identical code and toolkits across different fake investment platforms indicates a highly organized and coordinated effort by scammers.

 

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