The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reportedly revealed that it is working on 130 cryptocurrency-related investigations, citing an increase in illegal activity facilitated by crypto payments. These cases “encompass crimes such as human trafficking, illicit drug sales, kidnapping and ransomware attacks.”
FBI’s 130 Crypto-Related Cases
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reportedly “has 130 cases tied to cryptocurrencies,” according to Supervisory Special Agent Kyle Armstrong. Speaking at the Crypto Evolved conference Wednesday in New York, he was quoted by Bloomberg:
The cases ‘threat tagged’ to virtual currencies encompass crimes such as human trafficking, illicit drug sales, kidnapping and ransomware attacks.
Armstrong is in charge of the FBI’s virtual currency initiative, which has been around for about three years, the publication noted.
While acknowledging that his agency “takes a neutral view on digital tokens, he noted several pros and cons,” the news outlet conveyed and quoted him explaining that the FBI has noticed an increase in illegal activity facilitated by cryptocurrency payments. “There are thousands of cases in the bureau, so it is a small sliver at this point,” he elaborated.
Crypto Use on the Dark Web
According to Armstrong, “the opioid epidemic” has become a focus of the FBI as the agency sees “a surge in drug abuse,” enabled by the dark web. Moreover, he claimed that the agency has also “seen a significant rise in extortion schemes related to virtual currencies on the southwest border of the U.S.”
In its budget request for Fiscal Year 2018, the FBI asked for “80 positions and $21.6 million” to improve its investigative technology to combat cybercrime. The agency cited, “Some of our criminal investigators face the challenge of identifying online pedophiles who hide their crimes and identities behind layers of anonymizing technologies, or drug traffickers who use virtual currencies to obscure their transactions.”
On Monday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to help prevent the illicit use of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, dash, zcash, and monero. This bill shortly follows a testimony by a high-ranking official of the U.S. Secret Service before the House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance. He asked Congress for help in preventing the illicit use of cryptocurrencies.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it has seized “nearly 2,000 bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, with an approximate value of more than $20 million,” in a nationwide undercover operation targeting darknet vendors.
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FBI image via Shutterstock.