After Liberty Reserve’s shutdown, small or big–time cybercriminals had to scurry for an alternative currency. Some cybercriminals exclusively used Liberty Reserve (LR) as an e-currency to fuel their businesses, but its sudden shutdown took the underground scene by surprise. While many of them had a hard time believing this was indeed happening, others thought that LR would be back any time soon.
To respond to this event, some online crooks had to find an immediate alternative (which they did). Based on what we’ve been seeing around underground forums, these guys are now jumping onto the BitCoin bandwagon, as they feel it is a more secure way to buy and sell their products and services. However, there are still skeptics who doubt BitCoin’s security and think that it can still be taken down by law enforcement agencies.
Sample underground forum post
As mentioned in our previous blog, other e-currencies such as Perfect Money and Web Money are getting more popular in the underground scene, giving bad guys more ways to get paid. If you have an account for each e-currency mentioned above, you can pretty much buy whatever you like from anyone. And in case you don’t have the right e-currency you can still use an exchanger.
Based on our research on several underground forums, here are the most preferred e-currencies used:
- Perfect Money (PM)
- BitCoin (BTC)
- Web Money (WM)
LiteCoin (LTC) is starting to get some interest, but still limited due to the fact that LiteCoin are not as portable as Bitcoin. Russian cybercriminals accept more currencies such as yandex money, liqpay, qiwi.
As it was expected, cyber criminals quickly found other ways to continue their operation, even though some of them lost money due to Liberty Reserve take down. It is hard to determine how much the underground economy suffered, but it never did completely stop their operations.