Adult content site OnlyFans is one among many subscription-based sites being watched by financial crime and law enforcement agencies as high-risk platforms that could potentially facilitate organised crime such as drug or sex trafficking, money laundering, or child exploitation.
While the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC would not confirm nor deny any formal investigation was underway, academics and experts are reportedly concerned the platform is playing a role in dodgy payments and crimes, NCA Newswire reported.
The UK-headquartered platform has more than a million content creators and is known for hosting a significant volume of sexual content and pornography.
Financial institutions have a duty to self-report suspicious transactions to AUSTRAC. Big bank Westpac was forced to pay a $1.3 billion penalty after it was found the bank failed to adequately report more than 23 million breaches of money-laundering laws.
"Organised crime networks are highly opportunistic and adaptive. The AFP is aware of emerging avenues that criminal organisations may use to launder money gained through crime," an AFP spokesperson told Yahoo Finance in a statement.
Thanks to Australia's tight financial regulations, criminals are forced to find alternate methods of getting murky transactions through without alerting banks or the regulators, the AFP spokesperson continued.
The AFP works closely with AUSTRAC to understand risks that come from new payment platforms and financial technology, they added.
"In partnership with our stakeholders we will continue to target the highest risk sectors and those that seek to abuse them.
"The AFP, in partnership with law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Australia and overseas, work to dismantle and deter transnational money laundering networks."
Echoing these sentiments, an AUSTRAC spokesperson said the watchdog regulates more than 16,000 entities like banks, credit unions, and casinos that are obligated to report to them if they uncover any suspicious transactions.
"Criminals will always seek to exploit the financial system to launder their money and harm the community, that is why it is so important that regulated businesses take their anti-money laundering obligations seriously," the AUSTRAC spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.
University of New South Wales academic Michael Salter told NCA Newswire that sexual content of minors was already being uploaded to the site.
Working with international partners, he last year came across a Twitter profile advertising an OnlyFans account.
“It had about 25,000 followers and was advertising a very young model who was male,” Salter said.
“We requested an assessment from a forensic paediatrician, who confirmed that the individual could be no older than 13 or 14, based on his physiological characteristics.”
US authorities were contacted and both the Twitter and OnlyFans accounts were subsequently taken down.
Yahoo Finance has reached out to OnlyFans and Salter for comment.
Note: A previous version of this story indicated that OnlyFans was being investigated by the AFP and/or AUSTRAC. This has now since been amended.