Cryptocurrencies as Centerpieces of Crime: Pros, Cons, and Combating the Threat

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has sounded the alarm, as cryptocurrencies are permeating every aspect of criminal activity. According to the DOJ’s director of National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), Eun Young Choi, “We are seeing cryptocurrency and digital assets really touch every aspect of criminal activity we investigate.”

At a recent conference hosted by the Financial Times, representatives from the DOJ, the National Police in the U.K., and the private sector gathered on a panel to address the issue of protecting consumers from crypto scammers. The panel gave insight into the widespread recognition of how digital assets have penetrated crime scenes around the world.

While the DOJ has been investigating cybercrime for many years, Choi stated that the agency has seen a tremendous rise in crypto-related crime over the past several years. Across the pond, Detective Chief Inspector Phil McInerney from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) in the U.K. described ransomware as a key threat, specifically highlighting the use of cryptocurrencies for demanding ransoms.

Both Choi and McInerney emphasized that cryptocurrency-related crime demands a different approach and mindset, considering the unique and borderless nature of digital assets. Transactions conducted without intermediaries can be immutable and irreversible, limiting law enforcement’s ability to freeze these operations.

The DOJ takes a keen interest in the role of exchanges, as well as platforms like tumblers or mixers that obfuscate transaction details. Choi pointed out that the most significant risks arise from entities without proper risk management or compliance measures. Echoing these concerns, McInerney believes that public-private cooperation is essential for reducing crypto-related crime.

Aidan Larkin, founder and CEO of Asset Reality, shared his optimism for public-private partnerships in tackling crypto crimes, despite the challenges posed by the borderless nature of digital assets. Asset Reality specializes in providing law enforcement agencies with tools for proper asset recovery.

One common issue faced by the panelists is the lack of reporting by victims. They urge the public to provide any information about criminal activities, regardless of the damage size, to the authorities.

Choi wrapped up the panel by revealing the DOJ’s focus on exploring decentralized platforms, given their potential for enabling criminals to circumvent authorities. She concluded, “I think there will be a growth of criminal activity in that area.”

The growth of cryptocurrencies and digital assets in criminal activity highlights the need for new strategies, international cooperation, and public-private partnerships to enhance safety and security for all users of these technologies.

Source: Decrypt

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