A Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, has reported that criminal gangs use fake Spotify music streams to hide illegally earned money.
It reported that the gangs have been involved in drug deals, robberies, fraud, and even contract killings, and they use money earned from illegal activities to pay for fake streams of songs by artists connected to their criminal networks.
Their actions make it seem like the songs are popular and get paid by Spotify for the streams, essentially making money on the platform.
Four members of separate criminal gangs in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, and an anonymous police investigator confirmed the report, adding it became popular with gangster rap in 2019.
The process involves converting their illegal cash into Bitcoin and then using it to pay people who provide fake streams on Spotify.
A police officer who investigated the issue said when he contacted Spotify in 2021, they didn’t respond.
Spotify eventually responded by acknowledging that manipulated streams are a problem in the industry and said they are working to address it. They claimed that less than 1% of all streams on Spotify are fake.
See reactions below:
@dat1diggy: “This is no news. Most people in the industry knows these things exist.”
@ericotrips: “Less than one percent is still billions and billions of streams. Spotify needs to look into this.”
@LyfeofRiches: “In Nepal & Bangladesh, people get paid $2-$4 to churn out streams, so it’s not surprising. Stream farming is big business.”
@thelagosguyy: “there’s crazy levels to this shit.”
@HerrLennox: “Even in Nigeria here….. some underground cashout.”
@TwelveGavge: “They use our artists too to launder money.”
@TheKevinAsaju: “Ever wondered if gangs could possibly be using Spotify as a way to launder money?”
@srikavuru: “That’s a very high fee to pay to wash cash.”
@ReadyDivide: “I’m no criminal mastermind, but wouldn’t the money already have been successfully laundered when they converted it to bitcoin?”