The U.S. created a watchdog to investigate illegal uses of cryptocurrencies

United States Investigate Cryptocurrencies

The group will include a mix of anti-money laundering and cybersecurity experts. “We have to make sure that people can have confidence when using these systems,” said Lisa Monaco, the deputy attorney general of the North American country.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco unveiled two new Justice Department enforcement initiatives on Wednesday aimed at going after cryptocurrencies and government contractors who fail to report cyber breaches.

Monaco announced on Wednesday, during a virtual speech at the Aspen Cyber ​​Summit, the launch of the National Cryptocurrency Compliance Team, which will aim to “strengthen” the Department of Justice’s ability to disable financial markets that enable cybercriminals to “prosper”.

“Today we launch the National Crypto Law Enforcement Team to leverage the Department’s expertise in cybercrime and money laundering to bolster our ability to dismantle the financial institutions that enable criminals to prosper – and, frankly, profit. – from the misuse of cryptocurrency platforms,” declared Monaco.

The group will include a mix of anti-money laundering and cybersecurity experts. “Cryptocurrency exchanges want to be the banks of the future, so we have to make sure that people can have confidence when using these systems and we have to be prepared to root out the abuses,” Monaco said. “It’s about protecting consumers.”

Cybercriminals who attack U.S. companies with ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts systems and demands payment, often charge in cryptocurrency. Hackers often use a mix of different cryptocurrency services to accept and transfer these payments, helping to hide them from law enforcement.

The United States wants control over cryptocurrencies

Monaco also announced the creation of a civil cyber fraud initiative, which “will use civil enforcement tools to prosecute companies, those that are government contractors, that receive federal funds, when they do not follow recommended cybersecurity standards.”

“For too long, companies have gone silent under the mistaken belief that it is less risky to hide a breach than to expose it and report it. This changes today,” Monaco said, quoted in a statement by the Justice Department.

In this sense, he stressed that “as technology advances, the Department must also evolve with it, so that we are prepared to eradicate abuses on these platforms and guarantee the trust of users in these systems.”

In turn, Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Polite, said that “the creation of this team will build on this leadership combining and coordinating the experience of the entire Division in this continuously evolving field to investigate and prosecute fraudulent misuse, money laundering illegal and other criminal activities related to cryptocurrencies”.

The team’s eight goals are to: investigate and prosecute cryptocurrency cases, which are a central part of a nationwide law enforcement effort to combat the use of cryptocurrencies as an illicit tool; develop strategic priorities for cryptocurrency-related investigations and prosecutions, in consultation with the USAO, Department components, and investigative agencies involved in cryptocurrency investigations; identify areas to focus on for investigation and prosecution including professional money launderers, ransomware schemes, human traffickers, drug dealers, and financial institutions dealing with cryptocurrencies; build and enhance relationships with nationwide prosecutors and cryptocurrency-focused prosecutors with other components and litigation offices of the Department to conduct cryptocurrency investigations and prosecutions; develop and maintain relationships with federal , state, local and international law enforcement agencies that investigate and process cryptocurrency cases; train and advise federal prosecutors and to law enforcement agencies in developing investigation and prosecution strategies. Such training and advice will include the provision of guidance on search and seizure orders, restraining orders, criminal and civil confiscation charges, indictments and other allegations; support the coordination and sharing of information and evidence between law enforcement offices to maximize the effectiveness of the Department’s cryptocurrency-related investigations, prosecutions, and forfeitures; and collaborate and establish relationships with private sector actors with experience in cryptocurrency matters to further the law enforcement mission.

The announcements follow several high-profile cyberattacks earlier this year against U.S. companies and government agencies.

Cybercriminals targeted a major U.S. gas pipeline operator, causing a localized gas shortage along the country’s east coast in May. The incident led to new cybersecurity regulations for pipeline owners in July.