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Agents in Russia Accused of Election Tampering Using Cryptocurrency

The United States Department of Justice, on the 13th of July, released an indictment charging 12 Russian ex-military agents with committing the crime of “interfering” with the 2016 US Presidential Elections. The said Russian agents have been charged with hacking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Presidential Campaign of Hillary Clinton.

The interference was allegedly financed with Bitcoin transactions. According to the indictment, the hackers’ cryptic use of Bitcoin made it possible for them “to avoid direct relationships with traditional financial institutions.”

The accused have been charged with making payments to a few US-based companies out of money from their own Bitcoin mining pool, and it is also believed that in addition to mining Bitcoin, the suspects also acquired the cryptocurrency through “other means” to conceal the origin of funds. The activities included purchasing Bitcoin through exchanges, using prepaid cards and the use of other digital currencies.

Involvement of one or more third-party exchanges has been hinted at in the indictment. These exchanges, apparently, facilitated “layered transactions through digital currency exchange platforms” ensuring increased anonymity.

The federal crime, however, does not include alteration in the vote count or any change in the results of the 2016 elections.

Written by Robert Mueller III, the 29-page indictment speaks of eleven crimes including money laundering of bitcoins worth $95,000 over the course of the hacking operation. An article published in the New York Times, with reference to the indictment wrote, “From phishing attacks to gain access to Democratic operatives, to money laundering, to attempts to break into state elections boards, the indictment details a vigorous and complex effort by Russia’s top military intelligence service to sabotage the campaign of Mr. Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.”

US President Donald Trump is set to meet Vladimir Putin, the Russian President on Monday for the first time since 2016. Although Trump is looking forward to confronting Putin on the country’s interference, he doesn’t expect him to reveal much about it.

“I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, you got me,’ [moment],” said Trump.

Ever strengthening evidence against the Russian meddling in the elections also points finger of suspicion in Trump’s direction. Democratic Party, collectively, blames Trump for having a part in the illegal intrusion. The president continues to press on the fact that he had no involvement, whatsoever, with the Russian intervention.

The Department of Justice, USA is displaying a keen interest in the investigation of crypto-related crimes like the one with the manipulation of Bitcoin and Ethereum prices at the end of May. An executive order was also passed by Mr. Trump for a new anti-crime task force essentially focussing on the digital currency frauds.

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