Washington — US Secret Services cracks down on fraudulent digital currency transactions and seizes more than $ 102 million in cryptocurrencies from criminals in connection with fraud-related investigations.
Agents and analysts are actively tracking the flow of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the blockchain, as well as traditional surveillance, said David Smith, assistant director of the investigation. The Secret Service, best known for protecting the president, also conducts financial and cybercrime investigations.
“When you follow a digital currency wallet, it’s the same as an email address with some correlating identifiers,” Smith said in an interview at the agency’s headquarters. “And when one person and another make a transaction and it enters the blockchain, it can track its email or wallet address and track it through the blockchain, if needed. “
The crypto ecosystem has expanded significantly in recent years. Institutions such as the IMF are beginning to embrace the innovation, but are also calling on investors to pay attention.
Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto via Getty Images
According to statistics compiled by the agency, more than $ 102 million of cryptocurrencies have been seized in 254 cases since 2015.
These cases include an investigation by the Romanian National Police, which targeted 900 victims nationwide. The plan is to place false ads for luxury goods that didn’t exist on popular online auctions and sales websites, and deliver invoices from reputable companies to make the transaction look genuine. rice field. According to the secret service, the criminal then engaged in a money laundering program to convert the victim’s funds into digital assets.
Other cases are Russian cybercrime syndicates that use crypto exchanges to clean up funds, and Russian and North Korean crimes where Bitcoin payments by US companies to thwart attacks are sent to the suspect’s crypto wallet. Targeted for ransomware operations related to people.
“One of the hallmarks of cryptocurrencies is that they move money at a faster pace than traditional formats,” Smith said, saying that the fast pace of transactions is attractive to both American consumers and criminals. I added. “What criminals want to do is make an effort to muddy the water and obfuscate their activities. What we want to do is to track it as quickly, as aggressively and linearly as possible. “
Smith was interviewed within the agency’s Global Research Operations Center, known as “GIOC,” where agents and analysts track cryptocurrency transactions around the world in a secure room at the agency’s headquarters. He compared the illegal digital money trail to looking at the “mirror house”.
Special Agents and Analysts Track Cryptocurrencies in Secret Services’ Global Research Operations Center in Washington, DC
Once the secret service finds out the illegal activity, it works to “deep a little deeper into those transactions and dismantle them.” [them]”Mr. Smith said. “You emailed me something bad. I know there is a criminal activity related to that email address. I disassembled and first logged in or signed up for that email. You can find the information you used when. Address. “
Investigators have discovered that the thief will transfer the stolen Bitcoin and other digital currencies to Stablecoin. Therefore, they are monitoring the market to track this activity. “Criminals are also humans, so we want to avoid some of the market volatility associated with some of the major coins,” he said.