An FBI special agent recently revealed that the law enforcement agency currently has 130 cryptocurrency-related cases under investigation.
There are a lot of positive effects of increased cryptocurrency acceptance, such as greater economic freedom and opportunities for millions of people. However, there are also some negative consequences as well, such as virtual currencies being used for illegal activities. A special agent for the FBI recently told an industry conference that the Federal Bureau of Investigation currently has 130 cryptocurrency-related investigations ongoing.
Narcotics and Cryptocurrency
This information was relayed by Kyle Armstrong, a supervisory special agent with the FBI, who just happens to be in charge of the bureau’s digital currency initiative. Speaking at a crypto conference, he relayed that virtual currencies were “threat tagged” to 130 cases featuring kidnapping, drug sales, human trafficking, and ransomware attacks.
While 130 cases sound like a lot, Armstrong said that, for the FBI, it was actually not. He said:
There are thousands of cases in the bureau, so it is a small sliver at this point.
A lot of illicit crypto activity focuses on narcotics. A joint undercover operation by a host of federal agencies recently arrested more than 35 Darknet vendors. The operation lasted for over a year and resulted in the seizure of illegal narcotics, over 100 weapons, $20 million in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, and $3.6 million in US currency and gold bars.
Rise in Crypto-Related Crimes
The FBI’s digital currency initiative has been around for 3 years, and it has noticed an increase in crimes featuring cryptocurrency. Armstrong notes that 10 percent of global drug dealers buy their illegal narcotics on the Darknet using crypto. He also notes that there’s also been a marked increase in extortion schemes that use cryptocurrencies on the southwest border. It should be noted that this border is also the most drug-intensive due to Mexican cartels.
As the use of cryptocurrencies continues to grow, it’s only natural that such currencies will also be used for illegal activities. Armstrong notes that there is a silver lining in that the blockchain does allow for easier tracking of transactions as opposed to fiat. However, he also says that the anonymity of such transactions is a distinct hurdle for law enforcement. This probably why criminals are turning away from Bitcoin, which is easily traced, to more privacy-focused coins like Monero.
The reality is that crypto will be used for illegal things, just as cold, hard cash is. As our societies become more cashless, then the chances of virtual currencies being used illegally increase as well. Then there’s the fact that virtual currency is a great way to extort money from people on the other side of the planet. There’s no need to meet in person, or even be in the same country, when a criminal can just demand payment be sent to a crypto wallet from the comfort and safety of their keyboard.
Are you surprised that the FBI currently has 130 cryptocurrency-related cases? Let us know in the comments below.
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