Far-right cryptocurrency follows ideology over borders

The Daily Stormer website promotes the purity of white race and posts hateful, conspiratorial screeds about Blacks and Jews. It has also inspired at least three racially motivated killings. Andrew Anglin, its founder, has been made a millionaire by it.

Far-right cryptocurrency follows ideology over borders

The Daily Stormer website promotes the purity of white race and posts hateful, conspiratorial screeds about Blacks and Jews. It has also inspired at least three racially motivated killings. Andrew Anglin, its founder, has been made a millionaire by it.

TheEditor
TheEditor
28 September 2021 Tuesday 04:27
1138 Reads
Far-right cryptocurrency follows ideology over borders

According to data shared by The Associated Press, Anglin has tapped a worldwide network to take in at most 112 Bitcoins since January 2017. This is worth $4.8 Million at today's exchange rate. He is likely to raise even more.

Anglin is one example of the many ways radical right provocateurs have raised significant amounts of money through cryptocurrencies. They have been banned by traditional financial institutions and are now using digital currencies to hide their activities. This analysis includes Telegram channels, legal documents and blockchain data from Chainalysis (a cryptocurrency analytics company).

Anglin owes over $18 million in US legal judgments to people he and his associates harassed and threatened. While Anglin is visible online, most stories on the Daily Stormer homepage bear his name. In the real world, however, Anglin is a ghost.

His victims tried to locate him and failed, looking at every Ohio address. His voter records show that he was in Russia in 2016, while his passport proves that he was in Cambodia in 2017. The public trail is now a cold one. His Bitcoin fortune is not yet reachable as he has no U.S. real estate or bank accounts.

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EDITOR'S NOTE - This story is part a collaboration between The Associated Press & the PBS series FRONTLINE, which examines the challenges to the ideas & institutions of traditional U.S. democracy and European democracy.

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Beth Littrell is a Southern Poverty Law Center lawyer who is representing one of Anglin’s victims. She says that it has become more difficult to use the legal system in order to eradicate hate groups, since they now operate with online networks as well as virtual money. She said that the Ku Klux Klan was a terrorist group and she could sue them. She said that it is difficult to do the same today. "The law is changing, but it is not keeping up with the harm."

CURRENCY OF RADICAL RIGHT

Anglin was awarded 14.88 Bitcoins in August 2017 a week following the Charlottesville "Unite the Right” rally. This amount was chosen because of its indirect references to a 14 word white supremacist slogan, and the phrase "Heil Hitler", which is the eighth letter in the alphabet. It was worth approximately $60,000 and would have been worth more than $641,000 today at today's exchange rates. It is not known where the funds came from. Anglin is now facing charges in the United States for conspiring to promote and plan the deadly march.

Anglin was cut off by credit card processors by the time Charlottesville happened, and had been banned by PayPal so Bitcoin was his primary source of funding. He claimed that the Daily Stormer was funded exclusively by Bitcoin during his "Retard’s Guide to Using Bitcoin" publication in April 2020.

"I have money now. He wrote, December 2020, "I've got the money to pay the site for the future", as Bitcoin's prices surged.

Marc Randazza was Anglin's ex-lawyer. He claimed that Anglin became a cryptocurrency user because of political censorship from financial authorities. This meant that he was unable to access traditional banking which he described as "more Nazi-like" than Andrew Anglin could hope to be.

Randazza said, "Don't create an black market and then be shocked there's one."

Although Anglin may have turned to Bitcoin for practical reasons. However, cryptocurrency is also appealing to the radical right because of its ideological appeal.

Bitcoin was created in 2008 after the financial crisis. This was when there was a lot of distrust about the global financial system. It provides an alternative to banks. Instead, transactions are verified and recorded on a distributed digital ledger called blockchain. This decentralized digital ledger derives its authority more from crowdsourcing than an elite class of bankers.

Telegram has a white nationalist cryptocurrency guide that states: "We all know that the Jews and their minions have control over the global financial system." If they catch you having a contrary opinion, they will shut you out of the system making your life extremely difficult. There is an alternative: cryptocurrency.

Richard Spencer, an American white supremacist has called Bitcoin the "currency for the alt-right."

It is difficult to determine how significant cryptocurrency plays in financing the far right. Government and academic research have shown that other revenue sources include merchandise sales, membership fees and donations in fiat currencies.

It is evident that Bitcoin's value has increased over time, and Anglin was one of the first to adopt it. The Bitcoin price is notoriously volatile. The currency lost a third of its value since April against the U.S. Dollar, and then suffered a further blow last week when China made cryptocurrency transactions illegal.

Chainalysis gathered data on 12 far-right organizations in the U.S.A and Europe that had publicly requested Bitcoin donations and displayed significant activity. They took in 213 Bitcoin, worth more than $9,000,000 at current value, between January 2017 - April 2021.

These groups include white nationalists as well as white supremacists and neo-Nazis. They share a common desire to resist the progressive takeover culture and state.

These people have real assets. "People with access to hundreds or thousands of dollars can begin doing real damage," John Bambenek, a cybersecurity expert, said. He has been following the use of cryptocurrency in far-right groups since 2017.

Andrew "Weev", Anglin's webmaster, has earned Bitcoin worth $2.2 Million at today's prices. According to Chainalysis data, the Nordic Resistance Movement is a Scandinavian neo-Nazi group that was banned in Finland. Counter-Currents, a U.S.-based white nationist publishing house, as well as the recently banned French group Generation Identitaire each received Bitcoin worth hundreds of thousands of Dollars.

Gab and Bitchute are two social media platforms that were embraced by far-right groups. They saw a spike in Bitcoin funding during the period leading up to Jan. 6, U.S. Capitol insurrection. Bitchute has received Bitcoin in the amount of nearly $500,000 since 2017, with about a fifth coming in during December 2020. Chainalysis data shows that Gab has received more than $173,000, with nearly 40% coming in between December 2020 and January 2021. Gab announced on Aug. 1 that it would be stepping up its fight against financial censorship and creating its own alternative for PayPal to "fight the tyranny by the global elites".

PRIVACY COIN

Although cryptocurrency has a reputation for secrecy and privacy, Bitcoin was designed for transparency. Chainalysis can monitor transactions by making them indelibly and publicly available on the blockchain. Although individuals can hide their identities by not linking their accounts to cryptocurrency, they cannot conceal the transactions.

Anglin, who was a public figure, abandoned Bitcoin in November 2020, just as Donald Trump lost his U.S. presidential campaign. He asked his supporters to send him money only using Monero, a privacy coin that hides data about transactions and users. In February 2021, he published a new guide on Monero that included instructions for non-U.S. contributors.

Every Bitcoin transaction is publicly visible. Your name is not usually attached directly to the address. However, spies from various 'woken' anti-freedom groups have unlimited resources to attempt to link these transactions with real names. Monero transactions are hidden," Anglin wrote.

Anglin said Monero "is really simple." It is also safe.

Other people have also reached the same conclusion.

Thomas Sewell is an Australian neo Nazi currently under investigation. He is asking for Monero donations to his legal defense fund. Jaz Searby is a former martial arts instructor and has been charged with Australian neo-Nazi charges. He seeks donations in Monero to fund his legal defense fund.

Martin Saxlind (editor of NRM's magazine Nordfront), asked AP via email, "Do you really believe how we operate our economies is any of your business?" "Swedish banks have used their economic control to deny us regular banking accounts. This is for political reasons. This is why we use cryptocurrency... You should investigate corrupt banks rather than doing what I presume to be a retarded hitpiece on white dissidents.

The Global Minority Initiative is a "prison relief charity" that serves American white nationalists. It accepts donations in Monero and by post money order. France's Democratie Participative is a racist, antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ website. It was banned in 2018 by French courts.

The site's fundraising page states that money is the "sinew of war". We can keep Jews and allies awake by your support.

All the individuals and groups mentioned in this article were contacted by The Associated Press. Many did not respond to requests for comment. Several were not reachable. Others responded anonymously with anti-Semitic or pornographic content. One email, for example, read: "Stay the (asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) out of our crypto you demonic kike...DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "

Going Global

In December 2020, a French computer programmer called Laurent Bachelier sent 28.15 bitcoins to 22 far-right organizations. This was just a few days before his suicide. The majority went to Nick Fuentes who was an American white nationalist influencer and would spend the next few weeks encouraging his tens or thousands of followers to take over the U.S. Capitol. One bitcoin was transferred to a Daily Stormer account.

Bachelier's suicide note stated that "I care about the future." "That's why i decided to leave my modest wealth for certain causes and people. They will be able to make better use of my wealth, I hope and believe."

Fuentes has increased his recruitment for America First's livestream and expanded his reach for the America First Foundation. The company registration documents state that it promotes "conservative values based upon principles of American Nationalism and Christianity"

The transactions were made public by a tip to Yahoo News journalists and the fact that Bachelier left digital traces linking his Bitcoin address to his email. The money trail provided clear evidence that domestic extremism doesn't exist in isolation and demonstrated how wealthy donors can use cryptocurrency without much scrutiny to fund extremists all over the globe.

Bachelier's money was able to slip into the U.S. quietly, without triggering any alerts that might have been triggered if it had landed through traditional banking channels. Chainalysis says that much of the money, including the $250,000 Bitcoin donation to Fuentes in 2012, was transferred through accounts not licensed to host cryptocurrency exchanges.

These exchanges that can convert Bitcoin into U.S. Dollars and other currencies are generally regulated as banks. Authorities have access to funds or information.

However, cryptocurrency wallets can be "unhosted," meaning that the users have access to them. Unhosted wallets, such as Fuentes', are similar to cash. They don't need to go through exchanges or banks that might flag suspicious transactions or verify an individual's identity.

The threat is being recognized by financial regulators all over the globe. The Financial Action Task Force (a multilateral, Paris-based, multilateral organization that establishes global guidelines to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing) released in June its first report on far right fundraising. It highlighted the use of cryptocurrency by these groups and warned about growing transnational connections among them. FATF stated that there is not enough information on cross-border fundraising or the extent of cryptocurrency use.

"Similar to their jihadist counterparts, many of these groups have used the internet and social media to share propaganda and recruit ideologically-aligned supporters from around the world. The report suggested that they may also be seeking financial connections. This trend poses a challenge to law enforcement and security services that are used to fight ERWT (extreme Right-Wing Terrorism) as a domestic threat with very few transnational connections.

White nationalists continued to meet in virtual communities, which allowed them to communicate with people around the globe even after the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders.

Telegram streams posts with different flags together. There's a "White Boys Club" in Kyiv and "nationalists" from Minnesota. A group of men in Minnesota with pixelated faces poses around "White Lives Matter" banners. Images from Poland, Slovakia and Russia show people burning flags and LGBTQ buttons. After tactical training in the woods of Poland, men wearing skull masks and rifles pose. A fascist flag-wielding man stands in the rain of France while a man with a swastika banner and draped in a scarf looks out from a hill somewhere in the woods in America.

Marilyn Mayo, senior research fellow at Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, stated that transnational connections make people feel part of a larger community. They can also inspire one another and create a network.

They may also be able to raise funds.

Blockchain data shows Andrew Anglin's donors were part of a global community that sent money to multiple entities in different countries. Chainalysis data shows that Anglin donors have given Bitcoin to at least 32 other far-right groups since 2017.

Data also showed that money was flowing into 12 far-right groups using cryptocurrency exchanges around the globe. These exchanges serve customers from all parts of the world with a growing number of being oriented towards Eastern Europe and Western Europe. Chainalysis uses web traffic data to determine where customers who use a particular exchange are located.

Donations from North America-focused exchanges were also made to European organizations like Generation Identitaire and the Nordic Resistance Movement. Similar to the U.S., entities such as American Renaissance, Daily Stormer, and WeAreChange received money through exchanges that served customers in Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

Kimberly Grauer is the Director of Research at Chainalysis. She said that the shift to global exchanges could be to hide detection but could also indicate that more donations are coming from around the globe.

VIRTUAL JUSTICE

Andrew Anglin is physically hiding and his money remains almost untouchable. However, his debt continues to grow. He owes Tanya Gersh (a Montana-based Jewish real estate agent) $760.88 in interest on a $14 Million court judgment that he failed to pay.

Gersh was involved in a dispute in 2016 with Richard Spencer's mother. Anglin published Gersh's contact information and created an army of trolls using his website.

She was threatened with death, as well as threats against her Jewish identity and her child. She would sometimes pick up the phone to hear a gunshot. Gersh noticed her hair was falling out. She suffered panic attacks and sought counseling for trauma.

2019 was the year that all things were finally settled. A federal court ruled that hate speech targeted at Jews is not protected under the First Amendment. However, since that moment of victory, not much has changed. Gersh has not seen a penny of her $14million.

She's not the only one.

Anglin also owes Dean Obeidallah $4,000,000 and Taylor Dumpson $725,000 to Taylor Dumpson, the first Black president of American University -- all civil litigation in U.S. court over libel and invasion of privacy.

Gersh's legal staff sent four emails and six addresses to Ohio last September asking for information about Gersh's assets. Four of the requests were returned undeliverable and one was rejected. The rest he didn't reply to. Anglin was then required to provide financial information. However, the April 1 deadline passed. His lawyers requested that he be held in contempt of court. This could result in his arrest.

Anglin's most prominent asset is Bitcoin. Gersh's lawyers are able to see Anglin’s virtual fortune, but they have not been able touch it. Chainalysis also states that he keeps his cryptocurrency in unhosted wallets which can complicate collection efforts.

Gersh is still running legal bills at $980 per hour.

Amanda Wick, who was a senior policy advisor for the Treasury Department's Financial Crime Enforcement Network and a federal prosecutor prior to joining Chainalysis as chief legal affairs, said that "the problem with an unhosted pocketbook is what is your pain point?" "The only thing that we have is civil contempt and criminal conviction. It's not a problem if someone is willing to go to jail, and the money is theirs because no one else can access it.

Anglin continues to be sought out, and he is still a pain point. Littrell stated that he may not be in the United States but that he is still out there somewhere and is not untouchable.

She said, "He will be held responsible." "We will get his crypto."

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