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Chinese Prosecutors Promise Increased Punishment for Blockchain and Metaverse Crimes

Today, China’s highest prosecutor emphasized that criminals involved in illegal activities utilizing blockchain technology and metaverse projects will encounter more severe consequences. During a press briefing held by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of China on February 23, spokesperson Li Xuehui underscored a notable rise in cybercrime taking place within blockchain networks and the metaverse.

Chinese Prosecutors Highlight Increasing Crypto Scams

Li highlighted that crypto money laundering has rapidly become a mainstream avenue for illegal accumulation of wealth and criminal endeavors.

“In the next phase, the procuratorial organs will diligently adhere to the directives of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, strategically plan and advance legal measures concerning the internet within procuratorial organs, starting from a higher vantage point, and furnish robust judicial support to foster a healthy internet ecosystem,” Li articulated during the press conference.

Zhang Xiaojin, Director of the Fourth Procuratorate of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, cautioned the public about the prevalence of “high yield, low risk” investment scams within China’s local cryptocurrency economy. He urged individuals to remain vigilant and adapt to evolving criminal tactics, using the infamous “pig butchering” scheme as a prime example.

The “pig butchering” scheme typically involves establishing rapport with a victim, enticing them to invest in a deceptive digital asset project or exchange, and subsequently absconding with their invested funds. Notably, U.S. authorities successfully confiscated over $9 million in Tether’s USDT stablecoin last year in connection with a “pig butchering” scam.

China and Crypto

In the previous year, Chinese authorities brought charges against over 42,000 individuals involved in electronic fraud and cryptocurrency scams.

Despite the ban on crypto trading and mining in China since 2021, the country has made strides in the development of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and regulatory frameworks concerning Web3 technologies.

China’s recent crackdown on individuals orchestrating blockchain and metaverse scams coincides with a surge in illicit cryptocurrency activities in Hong Kong. According to Hong Kong’s Financial Services and Treasury, crypto-related crimes in the special administrative region have nearly tripled since 2021.

To address these challenges, Hong Kong has implemented crypto-friendly regulations aimed at standardizing the local digital asset ecosystem and protecting investors. The region has introduced a licensing system for compliant businesses and has even hinted at the possibility of permitting spot Bitcoin ETFs to trade on local exchanges, following the approval of 11 issuers by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Cryptocurrency is essentially virtual money that operates in a decentralized manner, not through a bank but directly on multiple independent computers.

Every cryptocurrency has two main components: the units of digital exchange called “coins” and the network within which the exchange takes place. These units can be transferred between wallets and exchanged on exchanges. The networks in which these coins exist are called blockchains, which translates to “chains of blocks.”

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