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Crypto scammers have tapped into a “cheap and easy” black market of individuals willing to put their names and faces on fraudulent schemes – all for the low price of $8, blockchain security firm CertiK has found. .

These people, described by CertiK as “professional KYC actors”, would, in some cases, voluntarily become the verified face of a crypto project, gaining the trust of the crypto community before an “insider hack or exit scam” .

Other uses of these KYC actors include using their identity to open bank or exchange accounts in the name of the bad actors.

According to a blog from November 17 PublishCertiK analysts were able to find over 20 underground marketplaces hosted on Telegram, Discord, mobile apps, and gig websites to recruit KYC actors for as little as $8 for simple “gigs” like passing KYC requirements “to open a bank or exchange account in a developing country.”

More expensive jobs involve the KYC actor putting their face and name on a fraudulent project. CertiK noted that most actors are apparently exploited because they are based in developing countries “with an above-average concentration in Southeast Asia” and paid around $20 or $30 per role.

Meanwhile, more complex verification requirements or processes could fetch an even higher asking price, particularly if the KYC actors are residents of countries considered to have low money laundering risk.

Some roles paid up to $500 per week if an actor was to play the role of CEO for a malicious project, but the market for KYC actors was “marginal” compared to the market for bank accounts and crypto exchanges already KYCed according to CertiK .

Conversions from crypto to fiat – or vice-versa – were also cited as a significant percentage of transactions seen on these markets, with CertiK calculating that over 500,000 members in market sizes ranging from 4,000 to 300,000 were buyers. and sellers in these black markets.

Related: Scary stats: $3 billion stolen in 2022 from ‘Hacktober’, doubling 2021

CertiK has warned that more than 40 websites claiming crypto vet projects and offering “KYC badges” are “worthless” because the services are “too superficial to detect fraud or just too amateurish to detect insider threats”.

They added that the teams behind these websites “lack the necessary ‘survey methodology, training and experience’, which means these badges are then exploited by scammers mislead the community and investors.

That being said, the industry has been working hard and gaining momentum in its fight against crypto scammers. A released tool in October by traditional finance giant Mastercard combines artificial intelligence and blockchain data to help find and prevent fraud.

Contrary to popular belief, the open nature of blockchain transactions means that it is harder for fraudsters to hide the movement of funds. Another recent example is the work of French authorities use on-chain analysis to find and charge five people who stole non-fungible tokens (NFTs) through a phishing scam.