22 Sep 2023
Sweden has experienced a disturbing increase in bombings and shootings, largely attributed to criminal gangs. However, the latest revelation is astonishing: these criminal networks are using fake Spotify streams to launder their ill-gotten gains.
These gangs funnel money acquired from illegal activities like drug deals, robberies, fraud, and even contract killings into fake Spotify streams. Testimonies from gang members and a police investigator confirm this money laundering scheme.
This illicit operation began around 2019, coinciding with the popularity of Swedish gangster rap. The gangs use Bitcoin as an intermediary step to legitimize their funds, as it offers a certain level of anonymity. Gangs pay individuals to generate fake streams on Spotify for songs linked to their criminal associates. These fake streams push the songs up the charts, providing a veneer of legitimacy and contributing to an increase in genuine Spotify streams.
An investigative police officer contacted Spotify in 2021 regarding this issue but received no response. Spotify claims they are actively working to combat manipulated streams and denies knowledge of large-scale money laundering on their platform.
In 2022, Sweden recorded a staggering 90 explosions, 101 attempted bombings, and 391 shootings, with 62 fatalities. The revelation of criminal gangs exploiting Spotify for money laundering is a chilling development amidst rising violence, highlighting the need for increased vigilance within the music streaming industry. Law enforcement and tech companies must collaborate to counter these evolving tactics used by criminal networks.