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DOJ Issues New Framework Taking Hard Look at Cryptocurrency Crime

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has released a detailed new framework enumerating its stance on how to handle cryptocurrency-related terrorist threats and other cybercrimes.

DOJ department 40657 640 smallThe report is titled “Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework” and was produced by the attorney general’s Cyber-Digital Task Force, according to the DOJ. The framework includes a comprehensive study into emerging threats and challenges associated with the increased adoption and use of cryptocurrency.

“Cryptocurrency is a technology that could fundamentally transform how human beings interact, and how we organize society. Ensuring that use of this technology is safe, and does not imperil our public safety or our national security, is vitally important to America and its allies,” said Attorney General William Barr. “I am grateful to the Cyber-Digital Task Force for producing this detailed report, which provides a cohesive, first-of-its kind framework for those seeking to understand federal enforcement priorities in this growing space.”


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"Department of Justice Publishes Cryptocurrency Enforcement Framework: 'We see criminals using cryptocurrency to try to prevent us from following the money'"

According to information in the report, some of the strategies law enforcement officials are using to combat crypto-related crime include:

  • Evidence collection during response to an incident
  • Online data reconnaissance and review
  • Records searches
  • Undercover online operations
  • e-surveillance and the tracing of financial transactions

It also discusses the relationships DOJ has with other enforcement and regulatory partners in the U.S. and around the globe.

The report is broken down into three key parts. The first part lays out common illicit cryptocurrency uses like money laundering, tax evasion, theft and other crimes. The second part deals mainly with legal and regulatory tools available to combat those crimes as well as the DOJ’s relationship with agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission. The last part deals primarily with ongoing enforcement challenges especially those rooted in certain business models like cryptocurrency exchanges, kiosks, platforms and casinos.

Recently, notes an article from Decrypt, French police arrested 29 people as part of a Syrian terror sting, alleging they were part of an operation to use Bitcoin kiosks to “send hundreds of thousands of euro’s worth” of cryptocurrency abroad. According to the article, customers are able to use the kiosks to purchase prepaid “coupons.” These coupons, in turn, can be traded in for cryptocurrencies using provider platforms.

Despite identification requirements and outstanding international arrest warrants, the suspects allegedly were still able to purchase the coupons and send their scans to leaders in Syria before being converted to Bitcoin through Turkey.

“At the FBI, we see first-hand the dangers posed when criminals bend the important technological promise of cryptocurrency to illicit ends," said FBI Director Christopher Wray, in a statement provided by DOJ. “As this Enforcement Framework describes, we see criminals using cryptocurrency to try to prevent us from ‘following the money’ across a wide range of investigations, as well as to trade in illicit goods like criminal tools on the dark web. For example, the cyber criminals behind ransomware attacks often use cryptocurrency to try to hide their true identities when acquiring malware and infrastructure, and receiving ransom payments.”

Download the full report

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