Huione Guarantee Marketplace Exposed as Front for Cybercrime

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Cryptocurrency investigators have claimed a popular online marketplace in South-East Asia is actually being used primarily by money launderers and fraudsters.

Blockchain analysis firm Elliptic said in a blog post that Huione Guarantee is part of Cambodian conglomerate Huione Group, which is owned by the cousin of current prime minister Hun Manet.

Merchants on the marketplace, launched in 2021 ostensibly as a place to trace legitimate goods like property and cars, have pulled in at least $11bn over the past three years, it added.

“Not all of these transactions can be definitively linked to fraud or other illicit activity, since that would require perfect knowledge of users’ source of funds or intended use of the products purchased,” the firm explained.

“However, the nature of the products and services advertised by these merchants and their open willingness to facilitate scams, provide very strong indications that the vast majority of these payments relate to illicit activity. Manual analysis of thousands of messages across the Huione Guarantee platform has provided us with overwhelming evidence that its predominant role is to act as an illicit marketplace.”

Read more on South-East Asia fraud: Interpol: Human Trafficking is Fueling Fraud Epidemic.

The marketplace itself is comprised of thousands of instant messaging app channels, each run by a different merchant, with Huione Guarantee acting as guarantor or escrow provider for all transactions.

Money laundering service providers comprise the majority of merchants on the site, although others offer software and know-how to create scam crypto investment websites like those used in “pig butchering” fraud, the report noted.

Other scam-enabling products and services include:

  • Personal data including contact details
  • Telecoms equipment
  • “AI face-changing” software
  • Equipment used to imprison and torture scam compound workers, like tear gas, electric batons and shackles

“Our findings indicate that Huione Group not only facilitates cyber scams by operating the Huione Guarantee marketplace, but also suggest that one of its subsidiaries is actively involved in laundering proceeds of these scams,” the Elliptic  report continued. 

“Huione International Payments, part of Huione Pay, acts as a merchant on Huione Guarantee, offering to handle the proceeds of scams from around the world.”

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