The Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, recently reported that gang members are allegedly using Spotify to launder money. The report cited four Swedish gang members and an anonymous police officer as sources.
The alleged money laundering process involves converting money into Bitcoin via Facebook, using the cryptocurrency to buy fake streams for artists associated with the gangs, and then cashing out the money earned from these streams.
One police officer was quoted saying, “Spotify has become an ATM for them. There is a direct connection to the gangs and therefore also to the deadly violence.” The officer also suggested that this method is effective for recruiting young people into the gangs, particularly if they have a popular rapper.
A study from France’s Centre National de Musique found that only 3% of streams across platforms are fake, a figure that only accounts for the fraudulent streams that are detected. Given the low payout from streaming services to artists per stream, it seems challenging to generate substantial returns from this method.
When approached for comment, Spotify declined an interview but issued a statement denying any evidence of money laundering via their platform. The spokesperson stated, “Less than one percent of all streams on Spotify have been determined to be tampered with.”