A Growing Number of Human Trafficking Cases Involving Bitcoin, According to FinCEN


Using Bitcoin in instances involving human trafficking and online child abuse has been on the increase, according to the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Recent data from FinCEN indicates that digital assets or “convertible virtual currency,” were involved in 95% of instances involving human trafficking and online child exploitation.

According to FinCEN’s February report, the use of Bitcoin as a payment method in exploitation instances has been on the rise. There was a significant rise from 336 instances in 2020 to 1,975 cases in 2021 in the overall number of complaints linking virtual currency and human trafficking.

In order to promote national security through the collection and analysis of data, FinCEN primarily seeks to prevent the misuse of the financial system and the fight against money laundering. The public and law enforcement authorities engaged in the fight against human trafficking and online child exploitation are the intended recipients of the network’s report.

Out of the 2,311 complaints received under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), 2,157 of them mentioned Bitcoin as the main convertible virtual money involved in incidents of online child abuse and human trafficking. On the basis of this, FinCEN said that it was able to identify more than 1,800 distinct wallet addresses associated with possible instances of human trafficking and online child exploitation.

The Canadian financial intelligence unit’s “Project Protect” is a landmark public-private cooperation on human trafficking, and FinCEN has joined it to carefully track the growth in such instances. As part of the “Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism National Priorities” produced in June 2021 in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, FinCEN included human trafficking and cybercrime.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) put forth a proposal in October to mandate “some record keeping and reporting obligations” for domestic financial institutions and agencies in relation to crypto mixer transactions. “The proportion of CVC [convertible virtual currency] transactions handled by CVC mixers that came from suspected criminal origins is growing,” the commission noted, based on its assessment.

To outline the most serious dangers confronting the United States in illicit finance, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued its 2024 National Risk Assessments on Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Proliferation Financing earlier this month.

Also Read: US Treasury to Attend Congressional Hearing to Address Crypto Finance Concerns

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