Wash trading is a strategy used by investors to mislead others about the price and liquidity of cryptocurrencies. Swapping cryptocurrencies multiple times can help trick other participants in the market with an asset’s value or liquidity.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were quite possibly the greatest story in the world of cryptocurrencies in the past year. NFTs are unique blockchain-based digital items that are not interchangeable like traditional money. NFTs can store information on blockchains, making them an ideal platform for a wide range of projects. Most NFT projects are based on blockchains like Solana and Ethereum, which makes them very versatile and secure.
NFTs can be anything you desire, from digital art to music to videos to images to audio. NFTs offer holders complete control over the media or data represented by the tokens and are commonly traded on specialized NFT marketplaces, providing a secure way to invest in and hold these valuable assets.
NFT prevalence soared in 2021. Chainalysis followed a base of $44.2 billion worth of digital currency shipped off to ERC-721 and ERC-1155 agreements — the two types of smart contracts of the Ethereum blockchain related to NFTmarketplaces and NFT collections. Clearly, interest in Bored Apes and CryptoPunks is developing.
In any case, similarly, as with any new innovation, NFTs offer the potential for misuse. So as the industry thinks about how to adapt advanced digital art to earn money, we ought to likewise consider how to ensure that these frameworks are protected, and secure, and have built-in functions related to anti-money laundering (AML).
There are some concerns associated with NFTs such as wash trading, where there is the same seller on both sides of a trade, and tries to make the asset seem more liquid and valuable than it is.
The concerns about wash trading and the liquidity of NFTs are another reason why this asset class is a risky investment. Wash trading of NFTs is a way to manipulate the price of NFTs; it’s a misleading practice that only creates confusion and drives up prices.
The seller and buyer can keep trading the asset back and forth to create a bidding war and artificially increase the price of the asset. Wash trading includes a practice wherein a similar asset is sold and bought within a brief time frame.
To impact an asset’s trading action and cost, traders tend to make use of wash trading as a market control strategy. Generally, when two or more agents are trying to achieve a common goal without taking into account the potential risks, they wind up with no change in their original positions.
There are many reasons why traders or firms might engage in wash trading. For example, one possible purpose of this could be to help to stimulate demand to raise prices, or to encourage lower prices selling. A trader may make a fictitious sale to lock in a loss of capital before buying the asset back at a reduced value, basically trying to receive a tax refund.
Cryptocurrency exchanges have a long history of being concerned with wash trading. Their goal is to make their trading volumes seem larger than they actually are. With NFT wash trading, traders would want to make sure that the NFT they are selling is truly worth more than what they are giving it away for.
In principle, this would be generally simple with NFTs, as numerous NFT exchanging platforms permit users to exchange by essentially associating their wallets to the platform without having to reveal their identity.
By using blockchain analysis, nonetheless, wash trading of NFTs can be tracked by carefully examining the trading of NFTs to addresses that were self-supported, meaning they were subsidized by the selling address either or by the location that at first financed the selling address.
An analysis of self-funded NFT sales to addresses shows that some NFT sellers have been engaged in a pattern of wash trades.
How does wash trading work?
The expectation of the parties engaged in the wash trading process and the consequence of such a transaction lets wash trading satisfy its motivation. A wash trade occurs when an investor trades a token of a similar asset all the while. As opposed to other investments, wash trades are designed to consider the investor’s goal or aim, as well as the consequence of the transaction.
Investors and traders ought to have a clear purpose connected with wash trading- all involved should have beneficial ownership common to all within a short period of time. The beneficial ownership alludes to accounts held by a similar individual or entity.
Some financial traders might be keen on trades that are made between the shared beneficial ownership accounts since they could demonstrate the activity of wash trading.
While wash trades are generally considered to be in deals in which no real assets are exchanged, it can likewise happen when an investor or seller seems, by all accounts, to be doing the trade on paper, yet the assets have not been traded in actual.
Why is wash trading unlawful?
Wash trading is generally discouraged in traditional finance because it can lead to instability in the markets. The lawfulness of wash trading, or the practice of buying and selling NFTs in order to artificially increase their price, is still being debated in the decentralized world of NFTs.
Despite the lack of a clear legal definition for NFT, some governments have been outspoken against their use. Some have even argued that NFTs lack a clear legal framework and could lead to financial instability. Bithumb is a well-known crypto exchange that is based in South Korea and it was recently accused of promoting wash trading worth millions of dollars.
According to data from CryptoSlam, wash trading accounts for over 95% of all trading activity on the LooksRare NFT marketplace. This underscores the importance of vigilance in order to protect investors and ensure the integrity of the market.
Despite prohibitions on crypto wash trading, the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies makes it hard to track down the people responsible for crypto wash trading.
Dissimilar to conventional financial instruments, for example, stocks, which have confirmed Know Your Customer guidelines, blockchain-controlled assets can be exchanged secretly, prompting a gamble of wash trading.
The risk of inaccurate price and volume data arises due to the lack of reliable supervision by authorities in different jurisdictions. Until this issue is resolved, it is difficult to avoid inaccurate investment decisions.
What ways can help prevent NFTs from being wash traded?
The wash trading of NFTs can be tracked by observing the selling of NFTs to self-funded addresses. Self-funded addresses are those that are either subsidized by the address that sold the address or the one that at first supported the deal. This activity is likely conducted by individuals who seek to profit from the rise in prices of NFTs.
To minimize the risk of being a victim of NFTs wash trading, a trader should pick cryptocurrencies with a more prominent trading volume. To ensure the integrity of the NFT marketplaces, anti-fraud guidelines must be enforced very much like in the regular trading exchanges.
NFT Money Laundering
The practice of money laundering in the art world is not a new problem. There have been cases of it happening for years. Art is easy to transport and has a wide range of prices that can be subjective.
So criminals can buy the artwork with illicitly acquired money, sell it later, and freak – they seem to have clean money that has nothing to do or no association with the initial criminal affair.
NFTs are a new type of digital asset that can be exploited by criminals. They provide a way for criminals to hide their activities and avoid detection. Chainalysis warns that money laundering and transfers from endorsed digital money organizations pose a big risk to the credibility of NFTs, and marketplaces should take this into account when assessing these assets.
NFT crimes, for example, money laundering and wash trading scams happen when people are buying and selling NFTs to themselves, instead of through authorized exchanges. NFTs provide an ideal vehicle for money laundering, as they are anonymous and difficult to trace. This is why, malware operators, scammers, and Chatex use NFTs to launder money.
Chatex is a leading cryptocurrency bank that offers customers a secure, simple, and accessible way to use cryptocurrencies, maintaining a unique advantage over traditional banks by providing the best possible service and experience for cryptocurrency users.
NFTs present a unique opportunity for money laundering, as their anonymous nature makes it difficult to track and monitor transactions. By using blockchain technology, users can create more realistic estimates of how much money is being laundered through NFTs. Therefore, NFT markets are perfect for money laundering to take place.
Recent research made by the US Treasury Department entitled “Investigation of Facilitating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism through Trade in Art,” set off by worries that in the art market money laundering could support dread associations, and found that the flourishing NFT market could be an objective for criminals needing to scour not well-acquired assets into glossy clean authenticity.
NFT money laundering activity is relatively less but it is visible with some cases being reported on a regular basis. While the activity is not widespread, it is something that law enforcement officials are keeping an eye on.
In the last quarter of 2021, the value of cryptocurrency sent to illicit NFT marketplaces jumped significantly. This surge in value was due to increased demand from illegal activity, reaching a total of $1 million by the end of the quarter.
The figure continued to grow throughout the fourth quarter, reaching a new high of $1.4 million. In the two quarters, by far most of this activity came from trick-related addresses sending assets to NFT marketplaces in order to make purchasing.
The two quarters saw large amounts of money stolen from online accounts and sent to online marketplaces. A lot of money flew into dark markets from addresses with sanctions risk in the final quarter. All of this happened because of money that was transferred from the Chatex P2P exchange.
This is particularly concerning as it suggests that criminals are using cryptocurrencies to circumvent sanctions.
Money laundering that is based on cryptocurrencies is a small part of the overall problem, and it has decreased in recent years. NFTs pose a large risk of money laundering, especially when transferred between entities that are sanctioned by the international community. This undermines the trust that holders of NFTs may have in these digital assets.
This action ought to be checked intently by marketplaces, and law-making institutions because it has the potential to cause significant harm to the financial system and the overall economy. Money laundering has been a long-standing tradition in the world of fine art. NFTs are just further confirmation of this fact.
Art is unique in that its value is based on the individual’s perception. This kind of behavior is often seen in the art world, where it is often used to gain an advantage.
The criminal association makes a remarkable NFT and publicizes it on an NFT marketplace. The criminal association purchases a unique NFT from the marketplace using an anonymous identity. Then, it repeats this process multiple times to make it harder to track its movements and activities.
An association utilizing NFTs to wash money will probably utilize an enormous network of crypto money wallets and may try and endeavor to move the returns through a digital currency exchange to add more strides among themselves and the last wallet.
After a few trades, the NFT will be considered “clean” and its associated cryptocurrency will be free from any illegal activity. Moreover, despite the fact that blockchain innovation implies that following the first selling wallet is a doddle, sorting out who really possesses the wallet is completely different.
Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines aren’t accessible on all NFT marketplaces and thus, anybody can open a record, make a deal, and keep their character stowed away.
Why are NFTs appealing for money laundering?
NFTs are just like regular paintings – they have unique characteristics and are worth a lot of money. NFTs offer many advantages, such as their digital nature which makes them easier to trade. Additionally, NFTs are more art-like than traditional assets, making them even more appealing to investors.
There are many reasons why NFTs are attractive for money laundering. First, they are difficult to trace. Second, they offer privacy protections. And finally, they can be easily divided and traded in an anonymous manner.
The unique properties of NFTs make them attractive for money laundering purposes. These properties include their rapidly changing prices, which makes it difficult for law enforcement to track the transactions.
The price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is determined by demand and supply, but the prices of designated digital assets such as NFTs are profoundly speculative. This makes them difficult to value and trade.
Practically speaking, NFTs can be sold for a significant markup the next day, depending on the market conditions. They are a good way to launder black money through genuine transactions. This is because they are difficult to trace and secure, making them a popular choice for criminals.
How can you prevent money laundering with NFTs?
There are a number of ways to prevent money laundering in NFTs, including using secure storage, using strong encryption, using blockchain technology to track and audit transactions, and using transparent and identifiable ownership structures to keep track of who owns or controls the NFTs.
NFTs are vulnerable to exploits that can lead to the laundering of money, but the transparency of blockchain technology makes it simpler to recognize and estimate the amount of money that has been laundered in NFTs.
The practice of money laundering needs to be carefully monitored by markets, authorities, and law enforcement agencies. This is important to ensure that the money is being used legitimately and that it is not being used to finance illegal activities.
NFTs wash trading and money laundering exist in a dark legal realm with a lot of uncertainty surrounding their legality. Wash trading is not permitted in traditional domains, yet there is no proof that wash trading including NFTs has at any point been the subject of an authorization activity.
The wash trading problem in NFTs can lead to an unjust marketplace, where people who purchase tokens that are falsely inflated miss out. This can have a negative effect on the trustworthiness of the NFT ecosystem, slowing down its future growth.
The wash trading and money laundering of NFTs remain a big issue for traders, collectors, and the worldwide community, as these people make use of less liquid NFT tokens to exploit the asset prices.
As per Chainalysis, money laundering, particularly those transferred from sanctioned crypto firms, is a significant confidence-building risk in NFTs, and it must be firmly monitored by markets, business sectors, and law enforcement authorities.