Secret Service seizes more than $102 million in crypto assets
In line with fraud-related investigations, the US Secret Service is cracking down on illegal digital currency transactions, seizing more than $102 million in bitcoin from offenders.
Agents and analysts regularly watch the flow of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the blockchain, comparable to old-fashioned surveillance, according to David Smith, assistant director of investigations. The Secret Service is most recognised for protecting presidents, but it also conducts financial and cybercrime investigations.
In an interview at the agency’s offices, Smith stated that following a digital currency wallet is “no different than following an email address with certain corresponding identifiers.” “And if a person and another person execute a transaction, and that transaction is recorded in the blockchain, we can track that email address or wallet address, if you choose.”
According to information provided by the department, more than $102 million in cryptocurrency has been seized in 254 cases since 2015.
Among these examples is one with the Romanian National Police, which targeted 900 individuals across the United States. This operation entailed posting bogus adverts for expensive things that did not exist on famous online auction and sales websites, as well as supplying invoices ostensibly from respected organizations to make the transactions appear legitimate.
According to the Secret Service, the criminals then engaged in a money-laundering operation in which the victims’ funds were turned into digital assets.
Other investigations focused on a Russian cybercrime ring that used a cryptocurrency exchange to launder money, as well as a ransomware attack linked to Russian and North Korean criminals, in which bitcoin payments made by US companies to stop the attacks were sent to the suspects’ cryptocurrency wallets.
“One of the things about cryptocurrencies is that it moves money at a faster rate than traditional formats,” Smith said, adding that the speed of transactions appeals to both customers and criminals in the United States. “Criminals strive to muddy the waters and hide their activities as much as possible.” What we want to do is follow it as rapidly as possible, as aggressively as possible, and in a linear manner.”