Illegal raves causing lockdown chaos across UK funded by Bitcoin payments for illicit tickets

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BRITS are using Bitcoin to buy tickets for huge illegal raves being held across the UK, Sun Online can reveal.

Our probe found gatherings – which breach coronavirus lockdown rules – are being heavily promoted via social media.

Known in the underground scene as ‘forest parties’, dates for events on July 31 and August 8 are currently being marketed.

One Instagram page brazenly shows hundreds of people gathered under a bridge at a previous rave.

The group, using the name London Rave Services, is selling tickets via private Facebook, Telegram, Instagram and WhatsApp groups.

Potential attendees are being directed to a WhatsApp channel for instructions on paying £5 with Bitcoin – a cryptocurrency favoured by hackers and organised criminals.

Ravers are told the fee for the July 31 event is to cover a range of services, including security patrols, cleaners, and a Covid-19 safety station offering hand sanitiser and face masks.

Paying customers are told to expect a direct message closer to the time of the event that will reveal its location.

Other ads on social media point to the return of a rave scene reminiscent of the mid-1980s with a series of unlicensed events at secret locations being advertised for September and beyond.

Illegal raves have been a nightmare for police during lockdown.

Last weekend cops broke up an “illegal rave” near Pantside, Newbridge.

Five cars were seized by cops as they descended on the unsuspecting ravers, and one person was arrested for possession of controlled drugs.

Earlier this month police battled to shut down a wild illegal party in Bath for more than 15 hours.

Video clips showed 3,000 rowdy revellers crammed together at the rave at St Catherine, despite strict social distancing rules.

Residents from eight miles away and as far away as neighbouring city Bristol complained about the noise, with police dubbing the event “selfish” amid the ongoing pandemic.

Officers were also forced to shut down part of London as hundreds flocked to illegal raves in the capital.

Large areas of northeast London were placed under ‘dispersal orders’ as partygoers defied calls to stay home.

And a man in his 20s died from a suspected drug overdose following “quarantine raves” in Manchester, which also saw three people stabbed.

Last week Facebook came under pressure from police to remove pages organising illegal raves on its website.

Officers fear Britain is facing a summer of illicit parties as young people fed up with lockdown and unable to go to clubs or festivals attend underground events.

But police warn they do not have “a standing army” to stop them once they have started and called on social media giants to stop organisers advertising.

Facebook hosts a number of “rave networks” and “free party” groups, connecting users and allowing them to share the location of the events.

Areas including London, Manchester, Leeds, Staffordshire and Bristol have seen illegal parties this summer, often with the location communicated at the last minute via secret WhatsApp or Snapchat groups to avoid detection.

Ken Marsh, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, called for the online groups to be closed down at source.

He said: “The social media companies should be taking action to stop that being circulated because they are allowing by proxy the law to be broken.”

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