And you thought Bitcoin was bad.
Even as Breaking Bad’s Walter White struggles to conceal his massive drug profits with a legitimate car washing business, real-life criminals are finding it much easier to launder money using anonymous cyber-currencies—and they may just have a new favorite in Perfect Money.
Perfect Money has been around since 2007, and its newfound (and likely problematic) popularity is due in part to circumstance: Liberty Reserve, a Costa Rica-based digital currency service that had over a million users, was shut down in May by U.S. prosecutors for violating the Patriot Act. Liberty required only a name, email address, and birthdate to register—none of which the company bothered to verify. As such, identity thieves could freely buy and sell credit card information, etc., without undue exposure.
With that option off the table, scammers are flocking to Perfect Money (which just unveiled a peer-to-peer credit exchange function, incidentally). As with Liberty Reserve—but unlike Bitcoin, which is open-source and algorithm-controlled—Perfect Money is administered by a company based in Central America: Panama, to be exact, though Panamanian authorities have denied the presence of any such entity on their soil, and the website has an Icelandic domain extension.
The service claims to have “the lowest fees on the market” and offers a vague, catch-all mission statement on its website.
Perfect Money is a leading financial service allowing the users to make instant payments and to make money transfers securely throughout the Internet opening unique opportunities to Internet users and owners of the Internet businesses.
Perfect Money targets to bring the transactions on the Internet to the ideal level!
The “About” section is even more grandiose, like something out of Scientology:
The pink of absolute perfection that crowns world e-commerce henceforth will be presented by an ideal financial institution – Perfect Money which aims to bring the transactions in Internet to the supreme level.
So why should you trust Perfect Money? Because they have some loosely defined “guarantees”:
A group of Perfect Money lawyers analyzed the experience of other payment systems and developed a unique system with the security and guarantee of customer’s funds safety. Considering a wise risk distribution policy the analysts of Perfect Money tried to evaluate all the potential dangerous moments and threats to the system security. Perfect Money doesn’t practice investment activity and has refused the system tools that gain revenues by investing the users’ funds. Owing to this fact Perfect Money is protected from the majority of risks that may affect other standard banks and payment systems.
The reliability and stability of Perfect Money is based on collaboration with dozens of exchangers in Internet that run their business for a long time and have shown themselves as approved, secure and stable partners in the field of electronic currency exchange.
Forget about having any of this clarified. The company won’t comment on anything, as Reuters reported:
A request submitted through its website failed to elicit a response, and the company does not list a phone number for its offices or identify any management or employees.
Reuters could not determine who owns Perfect Money.
Reuters also cited a 2011 study showing that found Perfect Money and Liberty Reserve were the two digital currencies most closely associated with fraud: “Of 1,000 websites that linked to Perfect Money, they found 70 percent that were Ponzi schemes.”
And if all that’s not shady enough for you, consider this: Perfect Money itself in mid-June sent a notice that “All Account [sic] that belong to US Citizens/Residents/US Companies will be disabled within 15 days.”
In line with our policy, all accounts that belong to US Citizens/Residents/US Companies will be disabled on 1st of July. If you still have funds on your account, please take appropriate and timely steps to withdraw the balance. Please note that after 1st of July, no transactions can be executed at accounts that fall into the above mentioned category.
The company added, perhaps unnecessarily, “Please do not postpone taking action to withdraw you [sic] balance.”
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