Australia Surpasses Asia in Crypto ATM Installations

Australia has become a leading country in the adoption of cryptocurrencies, with a growing number of businesses and individuals recognizing the benefits of using digital assets for daily transactions. According to Coin ATM Radar, Australia has surpassed Asia in the total number of crypto ATMs installed, with 364 machines as of January 2023. This represents a significant increase since the beginning of the year, with the country climbing from fifth to third place in January alone.

Over the last eight months, Australia has consistently added Bitcoin ATMs, unlike leading European nations and the United States, which reported a reduction in ATM installations during the same period. This suggests that Australia is on a crypto ATM installation spree, reflecting the growing demand for fiat-to-crypto conversions in the country.

In contrast, Asia, which includes major economies such as China, Japan, Singapore, and India, hosts only 355 crypto machines, representing only 1% of the total crypto ATMs installed worldwide. Despite the vast population and economic power of these countries, Australia has managed to outpace them in the installation of crypto ATMs.

The increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies in Australia is not limited to the installation of crypto ATMs. Leaked internal documents from Australia’s Department of the Treasury reveal that the country is also considering the introduction of crypto legislation. This would provide a regulatory framework for the crypto industry, helping to legitimize and foster its growth.

Although the final submissions to the cabinet will reportedly come later in the year, it is clear that crypto legislation is on the horizon in Australia. This would bring the country in line with other leading crypto-friendly nations, such as Switzerland and Malta, which have established themselves as global hubs for crypto innovation and adoption.

In conclusion, Australia’s growing number of crypto ATM installations and its consideration of crypto legislation demonstrate the country’s commitment to fostering the growth and adoption of cryptocurrencies. As the crypto industry continues to evolve and gain mainstream acceptance, Australia’s proactive approach positions it as a leader in the global crypto landscape.


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Bitcoin ATM Stolen During Raid In Barcelona

Crypto-related crimes have been on the rise in Spain in recent times. The most recent incident is the case of a stolen Bitcoin ATM in Barcelona.

Related Reading | Data Shows Crypto Hacks And Fraud In 2021 Are On Track For A New Record

Bitcoin ATMs are kiosks that allow a person to purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by using cash or debit card. According to this website, Spain has the highest number of crypto ATMs in Europe. With 185 ATMs, it is also the fourth highest in the world.

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Bitcoin ATM Theft

Local news reported on Friday that the Spanish police are investigating the theft of a Bitcoin ATM. The thieves stole the machine in a raid on a cryptocurrency exchange outlet in a wealthy Barcelona neighborhood.

The police force of Catalonia, Mossos d’Esquadra, said that the ATM theft happened around 3 a.m. They however did not provide any further information on the case to avoid hindering the investigation.

According to the news agency, police sources said thieves took the ATM from a shop on Beethoven street in the Sarria area. The area houses a branch of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC). GBTC reportedly declined to comment, and the police also refused to confirm the exact location of the robbery.

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An unverified video that surfaced showed an SUV crashing into the GBTC storefront. Afterward, some hooded people from another car made away with the ATM.

This incident is just the most recent of the bitcoin-related crimes in Spain. A few days ago, a Spanish techpreneur reported that he had been robbed. Zaryn Dentzel, the victim, is the co-founder of Tuenti, a Spanish social network-turned communications firm owned by Telefónica telecommunications company.

He claimed that four or five hooded people robbed him of millions of Euros worth of crypto from his house in Madrid. They blindfolded him, covered his home’s security cameras, and beat him up. He was then forced to give up the password to an online account containing his cryptocurrencies which held tens of millions of euros in Bitcoin. However, the thieves were unsuccessful in stealing any of his cryptos.

Crypto Crime On The Rise

Crypto attacks are hardly rare. They occur more frequently than most people think, mostly through hacks, phishing scams, ransom attacks, and fake advertisements.

A couple of the most popular attacks this year are the $600 million Poly Network attack and the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.

Related Reading | Over $5 Billion In BTC Paid In Top 10 Ransomware Variants, Says U.S. Treasury

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the total value of suspected ransomware payments during the first half of 2021 was $590 million. Also, roughly $5.2 billion in outgoing BTC payments were tied to the top 10 ransomware variants over the past three years.

Many Bitcoin crimes have also been recorded in the U.K., Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand, to name a few.

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FBI Issues Warning About Bad Actors Using Bitcoin ATMs To Steal Crypto From Victims

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning the public that bad actors are using Bitcoin (BTC) ATMs and QR codes to defraud unsuspecting victims. 

In a public service announcement, the agency says that it is seeing increased incidents of scammers telling their victims to deposit money to a cryptocurrency ATM using a QR code associated with a digital wallet.

The FBI says that these bad actors solicit money from their victims through various fraudulent schemes such as online impersonation schemes, romance schemes and lottery schemes.

“The scammer then directs the victim to a physical cryptocurrency ATM to insert their money, purchase cryptocurrency, and use the provided QR code to auto-populate the recipient address. Often the scammer is in constant online communication with the victim and provides step-by-step instructions until the payment is completed.”

The agency says that the decentralized nature of crypto assets makes it difficult to recover the victims’ money, with much of the stolen funds being sent overseas right away instead of being tracked and verified by a bank. 

“This differs from traditional bank transfers or wires where a payment transaction can remain pending for one to two days before settlement. It can also make law enforcement’s recovery of the funds difficult and can leave many victims with a financial loss.”

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Vulnerable: Kraken reveals many US Bitcoin ATMs still use default admin QR codes

Kraken Security Labs has said that a “large number” of Bitcoin ATMs are vulnerable to hacking as the administrators never changed the default admin QR code.

In a Sept. 29 blog post, Kraken posted research from its Security Labs team which found that there are “multiple hardware and software vulnerabilities” in the General Bytes BATMTwo ATM range.

“Multiple attack vectors were found through the default administrative QR code, the Android operating software, the ATM management system and even the hardware case of the machine,” the post read.

Kraken’s security team stated that if a hacker gets their hands on the administrative code, they can essentially “walk up to an ATM and compromise it,” while also highlighting issues with the BATMtwo’s lack of secure boot mechanisms, as well as “critical vulnerabilities” in the ATM’s management system. However, General Bytes has reportedly already alerted ATM owners to the vulnerabilities:

“Kraken Security Labs reported the vulnerabilities to General Bytes on April 20, 2021, they released patches to their backend system (CAS) and alerted their customers, but full fixes for some of the issues may still require hardware revisions.”

The team also found that it was able to gain full access to the Android operating system behind the BATMTwo ATM by simply attaching a USB keyboard to the machine, and warned that “anyone” could “install applications, copy files or conduct other malicious activities.”

General Bytes is headquartered in the Czech Republic and, according to Coin ATM Radar, there are currently 6391 General Bytes ATMs installed worldwide, which represents 22.7% of the global market. However, those figures also account for BATMThree machines which weren’t reported on by Kraken.

The majority of the BATM ATMs are located in the U.S. and Canada, with a combined figure tallying in at around 5300, while Europe has around 824 ATMs installed.

Kraken is calling on BATMTwo owners and operators to change the default QR admin code, update the CAS server and place the ATMs in visible locations for security cameras.

Related: El Salvador ranks third in global Bitcoin ATM installations, data finds

Bitcoin ATM scams

While reports of hacked Bitcoin ATMs appear to be minimal, there is a history of crafty individuals building scams around crypto ATMs.

In March of 2019, the Toronto Police issued a public statement calling on the community to locate four men suspected of carrying out a series of “double-spending” transactions that fetched $150,000 worth of funds over a 10-day window. Double spending consists of canceling transactions before the ATM has had a chance to confirm but keeping the dispensed cash.

The Oakland Press reported on June. 22 of this year that two women from Berkley were scammed out of a combined $15,000 after fraudsters posed as public safety officers and federal employees. The scammers reportedly told the victims that they had outstanding warrants and tax violations, and ordered them to pay fines via local Bitcoin ATMs in the area.

And Malwarebytes posted research in August which uncovered a trend of gas station Bitcoin ATM scams in which threat actors would post fake jobs listings to dupe applicants into money laundering.