Cryptocurrency police force set up to deal with crypto crimes in the US
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The US government has created National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) to tackle complex investigations and prosecutions of criminal misuses of cryptocurrency, particularly crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering infrastructure actors.
Cryptocurrency is “used in a wide variety of criminal activity,” including ransomware demand payments, money laundering, and for the illegal sales of drugs, weapons, and malware, the agency noted.
Several high-profile ransomware cases have involved demands in cryptocurrency, including the Colonial Pipeline attack in May, where the company reportedly paid a $5 million ransom to DarkSide (the group later apologised for the “social consequences” of the hack). And the US Treasury Department issued sanctions against a cryptocurrency exchange for the first time last month.
Launching the task force, Deputy Attorney General Monaco said: “We are launching the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team to draw on the department’s cyber and money laundering expertise to strengthen our capacity to dismantle the financial entities that enable criminal actors to flourish — and quite frankly to profit — from abusing cryptocurrency platforms.”
The team will be under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. to start, but the Justice Department is seeking to hire someone who has “experience with complex criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies and the blockchain,” on a more permanent basis.
Once selected, the team leader will lead the team of attorneys from MLARS, CCIPS, and assistant US attorneys detailed from U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the country to identify, investigate, support, and pursue cases against cryptocurrency exchanges, infrastructure providers, and other entities that are enabling the misuse of cryptocurrency and related products to commit or facilitate criminal activity.
This move by the US will probably lead to other countries creating enforcement units to tackle cryptocurrency crimes where they exist.