Bitcoin has been used by several fraudsters to deal with illegal substances and illicit items. In most cases, these transactions were conducted on the dark web where traceability becomes a big issue.
One such case that received its final sentence recently was related to the death of Hannah Bragg in June 2018. She had died of a drug overdose using substances purchased off the dark web with Bitcoin.
The perpetrators, who were then 14 and 15, had used the Tor network to buy highly synthesized and pure Ecstacy which they sold to young kinds. Hannah Bragg was one such victim, who died near a disused viaduct in Tavistock in June 2018.
Investigations revealed that the two culprits from Devon, whose names have been withheld, sold Ecstacy to minors as young as 12. Bitcoin was used in the purchase of these items because of its privacy advantages. Combining the power of the dark web with the decentralized nature of Bitcoin creates a system where drug dealers thrive.
The death of Hannah Bragg sheds light on the rampant use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in orchestrating such deals. Police discovered that the two boys also sold ketamine and LSD to minors between the ages of 12 and 15.
The older boy, who is now 17, has been given a youth rehabilitation order with 12 months’ supervision and 50 hours of unpaid work by Judge Paul Darlow. The younger boy was given the same youth rehabilitation order but with an increased 24 months’ supervision and 70 hours’ unpaid work. The victim’s parents revealed that their late daughter had never used Bitcoin nor had she dealt with drugs. In their words:
“It is so easy to think that my child would not take drugs but they are out there and they are easily available. Hannah was very well behaved. She played rugby, was a keen horse rider and was very active. She had lots of friends and had a good life. It has totally devastated us and is something that we will never come to terms with.”
Police discovered that once the online purchase was made with Bitcoin, the drugs were delivered to the respective addresses disguised as something else. Regulators have always warned Bitcoin proponents that the cryptocurrency’s use in such cases would be its biggest downfall. Several BTC supporters have condemned its use for nefarious purposed vouched for creating a safer cryptocurrency ecosystem.