The US Secret Service has confiscated over $102M in cryptocurrency from 250+ fraud schemes

  • The US Secret Service has been “aggressively” working to track down the cryptocurrency proceeds of fraudulent activities.
  • In the past seven years, the agency has managed to seize over $102M worth of cryptocurrency from 254 fraud cases.

Since 2015, the US Secret Service has seized over $102 million in cryptocurrency from criminals. These funds have been related to 254 cases of fraud, statistics from the agency state.

Other than providing presidential protection, the Secret Service investigates certain types of financial crime. As for the fight against crypto enabled crime, the department’s website reads:

In recent years digital assets have increasingly been used to facilitate a growing range of crimes, including various fraud schemes and the use of ransomware.

For this reason, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies remain under the radar of Secret Service agents and analysts. The office actively works to track the flow of these digital assets on the blockchain where crime is suspected.

Secret service fights crypto enabled crime

In a Tuesday interview with CNBC, one of the department’s officials, David M. Smith, explained:

When you follow a digital currency wallet, it’s not different than an email address that has some correlating identifiers,

And once a person and another person make a transaction, and that gets into the blockchain, we can follow that email address or wallet address, if you will, and trace it through the blockchain.

Smith is a senior executive and a Secret Service special agent. He currently serves as the 28th Assistant Director of the agency’s Office of Investigations, leading in its global investigative mission. The operation is quite robust, having 161 global offices with over 3,000 employees.

According to Smith, the consumers of cryptocurrencies, some of whom are criminals, are largely attracted to their speedy transactions. Criminals also attempt to hide their tracks, he adds.

What criminals want to do is sort of muddy the waters and make efforts to obfuscate their activities.

This is where the Secret Service comes in to “quickly” and “aggressively” track these transactions in what Smith calls a “linear fashion.” The agency then “dig[s]a little deeper into those transactions and deconstruct[s]” them.

You send me something bad on an email, I know there’s some criminal activity associated with that email address, I can deconstruct, find whatever tidbits of information that you used when you initially logged in or signed up for that email address.

Further notes

The agency has discovered that criminals are increasingly converting their cryptocurrency spoils into stablecoins. “Because, you know, the criminals, they’re humans too. They want to avoid some of that market volatility associated with some of the major coins,” the official noted.

The FBI is another notable law enforcement agency that has been actively fighting against cryptocurrency-enabled crime. In mid-March, the agency launched a new unit to “aggressively track crypto criminals.”

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