The US Secret Service has been able to crack down on illegal digital operations and transactions, seizing $102m in cryptocurrencies from various fraud-related investigations over the past seven years.
The news was confirmed by assistant director in the investigations David Smith, who said that the Secret Service has been able to retrieve cryptocurrencies and blockchain assets in relation with fraudulent activities.
Smith said the transparency of the crypto wallets has been their downfall. Smith talked about how a wallet can be traced easily so that the Secret Service was able to pinpoint the addresses of those who use the currencies and move them. It’s all recorded on the blockchain, he explained.
The $102m hasn’t been seized overnight, though. Rather, this has been the result of careful planning and enforcement action throughout the years. The Secret Service has been working on the job since 2015 and has become much better in detecting fraud.
Furthermore, investigators have collaborated with other jurisdictions. For example, the Secret Service worked with the Romanian National Police in a case that had 900 people in the US targeted, with the culprits based in Eastern Europe.
The Secret Service has also taken on Russian cybercrime syndicates who used various ransomware tools and cryptocurrency exchanges to make sure that they obfuscate the origin of the stolen funds – without much success.
Smith noted that the faster speed of transaction of cryptocurrencies made those options far more appealing to the average user, but also criminal. Hiding the origin of the funds was difficult, as the blockchain kept a public and accessible record.
Most of the stolen funds are then transferred into stablecoins, simply because they want to avoid volatility as well. The Secret Service is on the job, Smith assured, and criminals are unlikely to hide forever – not on the blockchain.
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