PayPal terminates Epik payment services over money laundering expectations

A source close to the situation put the issue more bluntly: money laundering. The source said that the problem lies with Epik’s digital currency. 

PayPal terminates Epik payment services over money laundering expectations


PayPal Terminates Epik Payment Services Over Money Laundering Expectations : PayPal, Hunter Biden, Bloomberg News, and several Avengers were targeted in a series of unhinged open letters from Epik after PayPal terminated its account. 

The domain registrar, whose CEO once defended David Duke on a white nationalist podcast, is home to Gab and other far-right websites, and formerly hosted 8chan. It also hosts the domain of the former website of the violent far-right Proud Boys, which was recently spoofed in emails threatening Democratic voters.

Epik claimed it was cut off due to “anti-conservative bias.” PayPal said it had nothing to do with political ideology, but was instead due to financial risk issues.

“PayPal has sophisticated risk controls in place to alert our teams to potentially violative activity occurring on our platforms,” said a PayPal spokesperson in a statement to Mashable. “The company independently reviews each matter and bases its decisions on the management of risk and compliance with our long-standing User Agreement.”

A source close to the situation put the issue more bluntly: money laundering.

The source said that the problem lies with Epik’s digital currency. The domain registrar runs its own “alternative currency” called Masterbucks, which can be used to purchase products sold by Epik or converted into U.S. dollars.

According to the source, Epik has not gone through the appropriate legal steps to run Masterbucks, and was encouraging tax evasion. An archived version of the Masterbucks page promotes its “tax advantages.”

References to “tax advantages” do not appear on the current version of Epik’s Masterbucks website.

Epik was informed of these issues over a month ago by PayPal, according to the source. The payment processor attempted to work with Epik to fix the situation before terminating the domain registrar’s PayPal account last weekend.

Earlier this week, Epik publicly aired its disputes with PayPal on its blog. The company also uploaded three open letters to its website. 

According to one letter, penned by Epik’s SVP of strategy and communications, Robert Davis, PayPal inquired about offshore accounts, money transmission licenses, and “other queries related to cross‐border activities and law enforcement.”

“[The questions] were absolutely absurd, and well outside of any knowledge or experience we have as a domain registrar,” said Davis.

The letters go on to accuse PayPal of closing Epik’s accounts for political reasons, and make no mention Masterbucks.

“It would appear that in a direct effort to silence conservative voices, PayPal has terminated our payment services ‐ just two weeks before a Presidential election,” reads a second open letter.

The right wing has long accused tech companies of anti-conservative bias. Experts say the claims are unfounded. 

The letters got even more bizarre, railing against former Vice President Joe Biden’s son and the Democratic Party.

“In the wake of damning evidence about Hunter Biden that threatens to expose elements of the DNC for being overtly anti‐American, PayPal has now seemingly moved into an aggressive phase of delivering brutal consequences for those who stand for truth,” it reads.

Davis appears to be referencing Facebook and Twitter’s decision last week to restrict sharing of a New York Post story alleging corruption on the part of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. It should be noted that numerous staff reporters for the Post have distanced themselves from the report. 

While two of the three Epik open letters are addressed to PayPal, the third is directed to a Bloomberg reporter. It claims the reporter reached out to Epik CEO Rob Monster for a story involving domains registered with the company. 

It’s unclear what domains they may have inquired about. Mashable reached out to the reporter and will update this story if they respond.

Mashable did, however, find that is currently registered with Epik. It made national news this week after threatening emails made to look like they were sent from the domain ended up in the inboxes of likely Joe Biden voters. U.S. officials blamed Iran for the emails, but did not show any proof to support that conclusion. The domain was previously officially associated with the Proud Boys.

The open letter railed against CNN, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo of Marvel’s The Avengers.

Davis accused “Hollywood” of protecting child molesters, and then claimed Chris Evans sent pictures of his penis “to children over Twitter” — seemingly a reference to the actor accidentally posting private photos on his public Twitter account, for which he later apologized. Davis then ranted about “the Hulk” — we can only assume he meant Mark Ruffalo —spreading “misleading climate data.” 

The obsession of child abuse within “elite” political and Hollywood circles overlaps with the QAnon conspiracy theory, which spreads readily on sites using Epik’s services.

Epik also shared links to blog posts attacking PayPal and GoDaddy.

The number of domains registered under Epik have doubled in the past year. The company claims to manage 2 million domain names. However, public records show only around 600,00 domains registered under Epik.

If the name of the company sounds familiar, that’s because Epik made national headlines in August 2019 after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that left 23 people dead.

Prior to the shooting, the killer had posted his intentions, as well as a racist manifesto, on the imageboard 8chan. Epik originally defended its decision to host the domain, but later cut ties with 8chan.

The company is still providing services for far-right websites and platforms such as Gab and Bitchute.

Originally published at Mashable