Not only protecting the president, the Secret Service also investigates cryptocurrency-related crimes by keeping a close eye on the market.
The United States Secret Service, a federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security, has seized more than $102 million in cryptocurrency from criminal cases.
The seizure has occurred in the last seven years, from 254 investigations related to cyber fraudaccording to agency data cited by CNBC. Known primarily for its role in protecting the US president and high-ranking officials, the Secret Service is an agency that also handles the prevention and investigation of counterfeit money.
In an interview for CNBCDeputy Director of the Secret Service Bureau of Investigations David Smith said that analysts and agents are actively tracking the flow of cryptocurrencies as Bitcoinan activity similar to old-fashioned surveillance.
“When you follow a digital currency wallet, it is not unlike an email address that has some identifiers correlated to it”Smith explained to that news outlet, continuing:
Once a transaction is made by one person and another person, and that goes into the blockchain, we have the ability to follow that email address or wallet address, if you will, and track it through the blockchain.
Secret Service monitors the Bitcoin market
During the interview, the deputy director mentioned some examples of the cases of financial investigations that have led to the seizure of digital assets. One of the cases was an investigation by the Romanian National Police that defrauded nearly 900 people from the US in a scheme involving fake online luxury goods auction advertisements.
The scammers involved in that scheme turned to cryptocurrencies to launder funds stolen from victims, according to the federal agency. Other cases included attacks ransomware to American companies led by Russian and North Korean hackers who requested payments in Bitcoin as a ransom for the return of the hijacked data.
The agent explained that in many of these cases, criminals focus on “muddy the waters and make efforts to obfuscate their activities” with cryptocurrencies sending the assets to different addresses to make it difficult to trace the illicit funds. Once the Secret Service identifies illegal activity, it works to “dig a little deeper into those transactions and deconstruct themSmith added.
On the other hand, he highlighted that one of the elements that can make tracking activity difficult for agents is the fact that cryptocurrencies move money “at a faster rate than the traditional format”. Although Smith acknowledged that feature can make digital assets more attractive, not only to criminals, but also to consumers.
Secret Service analysts have been developing strategies to refine the tracking of cryptocurrencies involved in illicit activity. One thing they have discovered is that criminals frequently change Bitcoin for stablecoins to save yourself from price drops. That is why they are now closely watching the movements of the market.
“Because, you know, criminals are human too. They want to avoid some of that market volatility associated with some of the major currencies.”Smith said.
US government pays more attention to crypto
The Secret Service is not the only agency in the US making cryptocurrency seizures from criminal investigations. In fact, the number seized by the agency since 2015 seems relatively small compared to other federal entities. as reported DailyBitcointhe IRS seized cryptocurrencies worth USD $3,500 million, only for the fiscal period of 2021.
According to a November report, 93% of all seizures made by the IRS Criminal Investigations (CI) team involved digital currencies such as Bitcoina figure that has been increasing in recent years.
Smith’s recent remarks are the latest indicator that US government agencies are directing more and more efforts within the digital currency space. A few weeks ago, US President Joe Biden signed an order that marked a first step in establishing a national policy for digital assets.
Article by Hannah Estefanía Pérez / DailyBitcoin
WARNING: This is an informative article. DiarioBitcoin is a means of communication, it does not promote, endorse or recommend any investment in particular. It is worth noting that investments in crypto assets are not regulated in some countries. May not be suitable for retail investors as the full amount invested could be lost. Check the laws of your country before investing.