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E-currency Fact Sheet RULE
  • E-currency is precious metal-backed Internet currency. To open an account, an individual "deposits" money with an online e-currency company that then converts the amount into gold bullion. Via the Internet, the account holder can transfer ownership of some or all of that gold into someone else's e-currency account. Ownership can be repeatedly transferred.

  • E-currency is a sort of online version of "warehouse banks," which similarly converted account holders' deposits into gold or silver bullion stored in the bank. These institutions became popular in the 1980s among domestic right-wing extremists, who used them to launder money, hide assets and to commit other financial abuses.

  • While the records of e-currency companies may be obtainable by court order, and all transactions involving $10,000 or more in cash must be reported, some economists and Secret Service officials have expressed concern about the potential for money laundering using e-currency channels.

  • E-currency has been widely used by perpetrators of pyramid scams. Swindlers demand payment in e-currency because, unlike with checks or credits cards, the charges clear instantly and cannot be cancelled. Experts estimate that about half of e-currency transactions are related to scams or online games.

  • The most popular e-currency service is e-gold, operated by Gold & Silver Reserve, a Florida-based company. It claims more than 200,000 accounts and more than $14 million in currency. A January 2002 account reported that its clients made 8,600 transactions daily. About half of the e-gold system's physical reserves are located in Dubai, apparently for financial reasons, but also to help in the marketing of e-dinar, which was launched in September 2000.

  • E-dinar is affiliated with the Islamic Mint, a private organization dedicated to reviving the gold and silver currencies described in the Quran. Officers of the Islamic Mint (who hail from England, Spain, Switzerland, Malaysia and Germany), are members of the Murabitun movement - a tiny, Western offshoot of Islam's Sufi movement, founded by a Scottish convert in the 1960s. The sect is staunchly anti-Al Qaeda and anti-Taliban and seeks to enlist Muslims worldwide in an effort to overturn world finance in favor of a "Quranic" gold and silver system.

  • Other smaller systems include GoldMoney, Internet Dollar and Web Money. There is no indication that any of these companies, including e-gold, engage in illicit behavior. (E-gold has been commended for its cooperation in investigations of its account holders.)
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