The US Secret Service confiscated more than $102 million in digital assets associated with cybercrime as part of a crackdown on illegal transactions, according to CNBC.
According to statistics given by the security service, the stolen cryptocurrency money has been recovered in 254 incidents since 2015.
Apart from defending Presidents of the United States, the Secret Service also conducts financial and cybercrime investigations. In an interview at the agency’s headquarters, David Smith, assistant director of investigations, said that specialists and analysts monitor Bitcoin activity in the same way as they would traditional surveillance. He continued;
When you follow a digital currency wallet, it is similar to following an email account with associated identifiers. And after a person and another person complete a transaction, which is recorded on the blockchain, we can track that email address, or wallet address, if you prefer, via the blockchain.
The earliest investigations were performed by Romanian authorities, which targeted over 900 victims in the United States. The scammers advertised on legitimate websites and auction platforms, purporting to sell expensive things that did not exist. And, in order to validate the transaction, they were able to present fictitious invoices from well-known organizations. The assets were then transferred to a money-laundering operation in which victims’ cash was converted to cryptocurrency, according to the Secret Service.
Additionally, the Secret Service targeted a cybercrime network comprised of Russian and North Korean criminals that engaged in money laundering in addition to ransomware operations. In several instances, Bitcoin payments were sent to the suspects’ crypto wallets by US-based firms in order to halt the assaults.
Secret Service Actively Monitors Stolen Funds
According to Smith, the speed with which digital monies are sent makes them a favorite payment option for both Americans and criminals. Additionally, he said, “One of the benefits of cryptocurrencies is that it allows for speedier money transfers than the old method.” What thieves seek to do is muddle the waters and make their operations more obfuscated. We want to follow that as rapidly, aggressively, and linearly as possible.”
CNBC conducted an interview with Smith at the CIA’s Global Investigative Center (GIOC). It is the Security Service’s secure headquarters, where analysts and agents monitor Bitcoin movement worldwide. He said that gazing at illegitimate virtual assets is like seeing into a ‘house of mirrors.’
Additionally, Smith writes that “after the Security Service’s personnel identifies an illicit activity, it works to go deeper into those transactions and dismantle [them].” You send me a malicious email, I know there is illegal behavior linked with that email account, and I can deconstruct and recover whatever pieces of information you used to log in or sign up for that email address.”
According to him, detectives suspect criminals would now convert stolen Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into stablecoins. And, in an effort to ascertain their whereabouts, Secret Service personnel are monitoring market swings at the moment. “Because, as you know, criminals are also people. They want to evade some of the market volatility connected with some large cryptocurrencies.”