Crypto Sentences: Tougher Punishment for Aussie Criminals (Study)

• A research conducted by Melbourne’s RMIT University estimated that Australian criminals who have employed cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, in their schemes had received harsher sentences than those who used fiat.
• Nearly 80% of the cases reviewed involved drug trafficking, while the remaining charges included money laundering and firearms.
• Judges viewed digital assets as a sophisticated factor in the crimes and thus slapped wrongdoers with harsher punishments.

Study Reveals Crypto Criminals Receive Harsher Punishments

A new study from Melbourne’s RMIT University has revealed Australian criminals who use cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to carry out illegal activities are more likely to receive tougher sentences compared to those using fiat currency.

Research Reviewed 59 Cases

The analysis reviewed 59 cases involving people who were found guilty of using cryptocurrencies for various offenses between 2013 and 2022. Of these cases, nearly 80% related to drug trafficking, with the remaining charges including money laundering and firearms offenses.

Crypto Seen as Sophisticated Factor

Co-author of the study Lisanne Adam explained that judges viewed digital assets as a sophisticated factor in the crimes and thus slapped wrongdoers with harsher punishments: “One reason for this is that cryptocurrency is the only method of payment on dark web marketplaces, and sentencing judges are keen to send a message to deter potential offenders.” She further explained that digital assets are attractive to criminals because they have the ability to facilitate “seamless global transfers without the friction of the traditional banking system and in a way that can be difficult to identify.”

Crypto Used To Facilitate Illicit Activities

ADVERTISEMENT Nonetheless, Adam believes magistrates should consider all factors before handing down sentences – not just whether crypto was used or not: “It’s important for sentencing judges not just focus on whether cryptocurrency is being used but also consider other aspects of an offence when determining appropriate sanctions.” The prevalence of digital currencies has made it easier for criminals to conduct illicit activities across borders quickly and relatively anonymously which has subsequently led law enforcement agencies around the world placing greater emphasis on monitoring crypto usage when investigating potential criminal activity.


It appears crypto users convicted of crimes in Australia face tougher penalties than those using traditional fiat currencies due its perceived sophistication among magistrates. With cryptocurrencies becoming increasingly popular amongst both legitimate businesses and criminal organizations alike, authorities may need to rethink their strategies if they hope to keep up with evolving technologies.