The FBI is well aware of cryptocurrency scams. In fact, according to a report that cites an FBI agent, the organization has 130 active cryptocurrency-related investigations.
The report comes from Bloomberg, which cites an FBI agent speaking at a recent cryptocurrency conference in New York. That agent claims the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations has 130 cases tied to cryptocurrencies.
The FBI doesn’t seem to be focusing on ICOs or similar matters. Instead, the agency is focused on cases involving human trafficking, illicit drug sales, kidnapping, and ransomware attacks. In many of these cases, cryptocurrency only plays a basic role. Someone might have used Monero to buy drugs online, for example.
“There are thousands of cases in the bureau, so it is a small sliver at this point,” explained supervisory special agent Kyle Armstrong at the Crypto Evolved conference in New York on Wednesday.
Armstrong is in charge of the FBI’s virtual currency initiative, which has been active for approximately three years. Armstrong claims the FBI has noticed a surge in the amount of illegal activity linked to cryptocurrencies.
The opioid epidemic, for example, is becoming increasingly tied to cryptocurrencies. The dark web has enabled a surge in drug abuse across the United States. Approximately 10% of global drug users make purchases over the dark web. Many of these users rely on cryptocurrencies to make their payment – including privacy-focused cryptocurrencies like Monero.
Drugs aren’t the only illegal activity tied to cryptocurrencies. Armstrong claims there has been a surge in the number of extortion schemes related to cryptocurrencies. This is particularly common on the southwest border of the United States. A home, business, or individual might be extorted, with the attackers demanding cryptocurrency as a payment, for example.
Despite The Rise In Crime, The FBI Isn’t Against Cryptocurrency
Given the fact that it’s playing a key role in criminal activity, you might assume the FBI is strongly against the use of cryptocurrencies.
Interestingly, Armstrong claims the FBI isn’t anti-cryptocurrency. The agency does not have a specific problem with cryptocurrencies. However, they don’t exactly support cryptocurrency either. The FBI reportedly takes a “neutral view” on digital currencies because there are several pros and cons.
Blockchain technology, for example, makes it easier to trace cryptocurrencies than cash. Cash has long been the preferred medium of exchange for illicit activity. However, the anonymity of blockchain addresses can hamper legal investigations.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the FBI is handling over 130 cryptocurrency cases. However, it’s yet another sign that cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly mainstream – and they’re increasingly attracting the attention of regulatory authorities.