Money Crimes -podcast’s text version 2/3

This podcast episode is a compilation of several real-life cases that have been merged into one fictional story. The episode is based on background materials, from which the original sources, cases and references to personal information have been changed to protect the privacy of real people. This episode focuses on the dangers of getting rich quick and indifference towards the related responsibilities. New ways to earn money through social media and other online services entail an obligation keep yourself up to date regarding your responsibilities. In this episode, you will hear about the unexpected consequences of not caring about the responsibilities related to your income or not being familiar enough with them. This is the “Money Crimes” podcast. 

The exponential growth of social media has created plenty of new was to earn money. Many people dream of their own YouTube channel getting so big that they would be able to live off the income generated by it. They may even dream of the kind of lifestyle portrayed by the most successful Finnish or international influencers on their social media accounts: travelling, luxury and lots of free time. However, the fact is that this dream very rarely comes true. 22-year-old Aino was one of the lucky ones. Looking from outside, her life seemed perfect. Aino had set up her YouTube channel focusing on video games and gaming around four years earlier, and the number of subscribers and viewers had grown relatively quickly to dimensions that enabled Aino to enjoy regular advertising revenue from her channel. In practice, this worked through YouTube showing ads in connection with Aino’s popular content. The more views the ads and videos received, the more money Aino made. Aino had also recently set up a TikTok channel for live broadcasts that she hosted at regular intervals. In the app, the viewers of live broadcasts can send the content creator virtual gifts that may be later converted into cash. Although Aino’s income from TikTok was still scarce, she believed in the future of the platform strongly and had already managed to negotiate about various possible partnerships. If the collaboration were to come into fruition, companies would pay Aino in exchange for her giving them visibility on her social media channels. Aino was especially excited about negotiating with a certain energy drink company, as she was using their products anyway – it would be a true win-win situation if the company would even start paying her for it. 

However, social media was not Aino’s only source of income. Aino had become interested in virtual currencies at a very young age, and she had purchased her first virtual currencies when she was only 15 years old. After Aino’s first purchases, virtual currencies had risen incredibly in value and Aino felt her opportunity had come. She began investing her revenue from YouTube in virtual currencies, and when she was 19 years old, she started trading in virtual currencies. There are several virtual currency exchanges operating on the web, which exchange virtual currencies into other similar or real currencies, such as euros. Aino registered herself as a customer with a foreign virtual currency exchange, which allowed her to start buying and selling in the service. Aino stored all 95 bitcoins she owned in the exchange and traded with them now and then with great success. Aino earned really well with her virtual currency transactions, and before long, this began to show in her lifestyle.  

She shopped for designer clothes non-stop, travelled as often as she could and enjoyed the nightlife with her friends, splashing the cash. In addition, Aino had been looking for a suitable flat to buy as her first home. After keeping an eye on the market for a while, she found a spectacular flat in a recently built apartment building right by the sea. For a 22-year-old young woman, Aino’s life was the envy of many and she clearly didn’t have to worry about tomorrow. Aino’s friends had sometimes suggested that she should get an accountant so that she would be better informed about her income and expenses. But Aino had just shrugged it off. Why on earth would she get an accountant when she didn’t even run a business of any kind? A private person’s income from social media and from virtual currency transactions are not in any way related to activities that would require an accountant, Aino reasoned. Occasionally, it crossed Aino’s mind that maybe she should have paid taxes of some kind on her income, but she forgot about it as quickly as the thought had emerged. Moreover, Aino was convinced that the Tax Administration was in no way familiar with modern sources of income, such as virtual currencies. And even if it had been, she was trading in a foreign exchange, which meant that the Tax Administration would not be able to access her information even if it wanted to do so. Aino was not worried about the income from social media either because she suspected that the Tax Administration had no way of knowing how much she had really earned. Besides, Aino believed that Google, the party that owned YouTube, was ultimately responsible for paying the taxes on the advertising revenues it paid. Aino concluded that she would rather use her money to build her dream life than pay any kind of taxes on her own initiative, voluntarily. 

Unluckily for Aino, the Tax Administration was much better informed of virtual currencies and earnings from social media than she had expected. Only a couple of months after Aino had bought her first home, a letter from the Tax Administration landed on her doormat. The letter was related to tax supervision and requested that Aino submit further information. The information request mentioned Aino’s advertising revenue from YouTube, paid by Google, and her virtual currency transactions. Even though Aino was somewhat startled by the letter, she still did not feel accountable to anyone for her earnings. She contacted the tax inspector mentioned in the request for clarification and made up something vague about her activities. Aino thought that if she were to just respond to the letter in some way, the Tax Administration would leave her alone. But the situation was quite different. The Tax Administration was not happy at all with Aino’s explanation, and soon Aino received a notification that the Tax Administration would conduct a tax audit related to Aino’s advertising revenue and virtual currency transactions. 

The Tax Administration assigned Aino’s tax audit to tax inspector Teemu, who specialised in electronic commerce and virtual currencies. Aino’s case was by no means the first one of its kind. Teemu had dealt with several similar cases related to income sources such as electronic sports, social media and the OnlyFans service. What was common to all these cases was that the income received from the aforementioned sources had not been reported to the Tax Administration correctly. To a certain point, Teemu understood that some people may truly lack the know-how to report their income, especially young people. To many people, that just the topic of taxation alone is overwhelmingly difficult. On the other hand, in Teemu’s experience, many people also undeniably wanted to hide their income. For example, 70 per cent of content creators in OnlyFans, a platform for providing subscribers with pictures, private discussions and other content, do not report their OnlyFans earnings. Teemu believed it was clear that such a significant percentage of the content creators could not be unaware of their responsibilities. Some of them were doing it on purpose. Ignorance is not an excuse in these situations, because every content creator and person trading virtual currencies, for example, has an obligation to familiarise themselves with the rules, regulations and taxation of their own field. Intentional secrecy and lying in general do not get you very far. People who had intentionally concealed their income clearly did not know how much information the Tax Administration has at its disposal. Aino had been convinced that the Tax Administration would not be able to intervene in her virtual currency transactions in a foreign exchange, but this assumption was incorrect. In connection with the international exchange of information, the Tax Administration had received a summary of the transactions carried out in the customer account registered in Aino’s name. The Tax Administration could see all the purchase and sale transactions that had taken place in the account over the past three years.  

In Aino’s case, tax inspector Teemu was at first uncertain of whether the young woman was just ignorant of the taxation of virtual currency transactions or whether she had intentionally tried to hide her income. However, it was obvious that Aino didn’t seem to have any interest in clarifying the matter. Aino’s response to the request for clarification had been extremely concise. She refused to participate in the initial meeting for the tax audit, and she would not voluntarily share anything about her currency trading or advertising revenue. On the basis of Aino’s answers, it actually seemed she had known she would be liable to pay tax for income received from virtual currency transactions, but she deliberately put off finding out more about it. This was the last straw that convinced Teemu that Aino had covered up information on purpose. Teemu began making calculations based on the information available. The transaction summary in Aino’s virtual currency exchange showed significant trading activities. Moreover, when Teemu noticed that the same person had received a pretty impressive amount of advertising revenue from YouTube, he immediately knew that the tax implications would be significant. 

The tax audit conducted by Teemu showed that Aino’s trading had involved exchanging virtual currencies into an official currency and vice versa. Aino’s transactions had resulted in both sales profits and losses, which are called capital gains and losses in taxation. Teemu calculated that during the past three years, Aino had sold virtual currencies for a little more than three million euros and made a profit of almost one million euros from this. Just like with conventional shares and other securities, the capital gains and losses generated through virtual currency trading are treated in taxation as personal capital income, because they are thought of as gains from the sales or other transfer of assets. When the amount of taxable capital income exceeds 30,000 euros, the tax rate for capital income is 34 per cent. In Aino’s case, this meant that she would have to pay more than 300,000 euros in capital income tax from her gains. Yet these were not the only tax implications. 

During the past three years, Aino had received almost 100,000 euros of advertising revenue through her YouTube channel without reporting any of this to the Tax Administration. The taxable income is the income received minus operating expenses. In Aino’s case, it was determined that making the YouTube videos had incurred very little expenses as Aino had been working in practice only at home and creating the videos had not entailed many other investments either. The tax inspection concluded that the expenses incurred during the three years’ activities amounted to around 10,000 euros in the form of a new computer, video production equipment and different software licenses, among other purchases. This meant that the taxable income proved to be rather large: 90,000 euros. Aino would have to pay income tax from this amount, and the tax rate would depend on her other income. Even though Aino had also already earned a small sum from TikTok, this sum was still considered so small that the tax inspection did not address it. However, in the tax audit report, tax inspector Teemu clearly instructed Aino to also report this income to the Tax Administration in full in the future. 

While Aino had been annoyed in the first place about becoming the target of a tax audit, she got even angrier when she received the tax audit report. Aino could not believe her eyes – she would have to pay more than 300,000 euros in taxes just from her virtual currency transactions. She thought the amount of taxes imposed was totally unreasonable. Aino’s ordeal was not over, though, because soon a court enforcement agent rang her doorbell. The court enforcement agent told her that the Tax Administration had applied for a confiscation order as a precautionary measure for recovering the tax amount she owed. A tax confiscation is based on the Act on the Securing of the Recovery of Taxes and Fees, and its purpose is to safeguard the recovery of taxes, public fees and comparable payments. The district court may order confiscation when the recovery of the debt is both justified and likely but there is reason to suspect that the debtor could hide or dissipate the assets to avoid payment. Confiscation orders may also be used in tax offences, such as in Aino’s case. Usually the confiscation concerns the taxpayer’s distrainable assets, which in Aino’s case meant her newly purchased flat. Official calculations showed that the value of the flat would be sufficient to cover Aino’s liabilities.  

The tax audit finally came to its end and Aino’s flat was distrained. Understandably, this made her blood boil. She cursed the authorities in her head because in addition to losing her flat, she now had to forget her eagerly awaited trip to Australia and even postpone buying a new car. After thinking about it for a while, however, Aino had to admit to herself that the only person guilty in this situation was herself.  In hindsight, she should have looked into the matter and address taxation with the seriousness it deserves before it was too late. Aino’s friends had warned her, but the warnings had been just water off a duck’s back. At that point, getting into trouble had seemed very unlikely to her, and she had not by any means been prepared for consequences of this magnitude. She could not do anything about it anymore, though. Now Aino just had to suffer the consequences of her actions, of which there would be more. 

In addition to Aino losing her flat when recovering her tax debt, the Tax Administration reported her offence to the police. Approximately one year after the end of the tax audit, the police contacted Aino, who was 23 years old at the time, and let her know that she was suspected of aggravated tax fraud. Aino would have to attend the police station for questioning. She had not even realised that on top of everything else, she would be suspected of committing a crime. In addition to being annoyed, she noticed she was even a bit scared for the first time. White-collar crime proceedings typically take several years, with convictions coming slowly. Therefore, Aino’s misery is still not over. According to Aino’s lawyer, in corresponding cases related to virtual currency trading and not reporting income, being convicted is very likely. In Aino’s case, if the court would find her guilty, she would be sentenced for aggravated tax fraud. There are some precedents related to virtual currency transactions. In a case in which the revenue gained was less than a tenth of Aino’s, the person was sentenced to a six-month probation. In another case, in which the revenue gained amounted to around half of that of Aino’s, the person was sentenced to an 11-month probation. These decisions hint at what Aino may have ahead of her. However, she may have to wait for her verdict for a very long time.

A life of luxury is not always what it seems from the outside. Elegant clothes, cars and travelling may be a screen for criminal activities and tax evasion. The world is full of example of this: In the United States, friends began to wonder at the sudden extravagant lifestyle of an ordinary beauty entrepreneur, until the police caught the woman and found a quantity of cocaine worth more than 1.5 million euros in her car. A Nigerian Instagram influencer, in turn, took advantage of email scams and, later on, other more complex types of cyber fraud to accumulate a fortune. At the same time, he was flying around the world on private jets, dressed in designer clothes from head to toe. A similar case took place in Finland a few years ago, when the police revealed the so-called Katiska drug ring. The downside of a life of luxury funded through criminal means is that the castles built in the air may collapse just like that. Today’s world offers a nearly endless number of ways to earn your living. In particular, the opportunities created by digitalisation have revolutionised work. However, it is good to remember that the new freedoms also bring obligations with them. You have to familiarise yourself with these obligations regardless of how challenging the topic may feel. You can find plenty of information about taxation on the website of the Tax Administration,, or the Tax Campus website,, which explains taxation in an easy way with young people in particular in mind. 

When you earn money, always check whether it is subject to tax, because it often is. Taxable income is a wide concept and exceptions to it are limited. Moreover, income-earning activities are always subject to an obligation to keep records. In other words, you must record your revenue and expenditure. Do not ever assume that the Tax Administration is aware of your income without ensuring it. If someone else has reported the source of income in question to the Tax Administration, it will be included in your pre-completed tax return. This is one of the reasons why you should always check that the information in the pre-completed tax return is correct. You receive a pre-completed tax return every spring in March or April. For help in reviewing and filling out your tax return, visit