Digital currency-related criminal exploitations are being scrutinized by cybercrime experts

Wednesday 18 June 2014 13:13 CET | News

More than 70 law enforcement officials from 21 countries gathered at Europol’s headquarters in Hague to coordinate investigations into the criminal exploitation of virtual currencies, including Bitcoin in June 2014.

The meeting was co-organised by the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) hosted at Europol and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the primary investigative arm of the US Department of Homeland Security.

The group of financial and cybercrime investigators, as well as prosecutors, discussed ongoing worldwide criminal cases, involving the criminal use of virtual currencies to purchase, among other items, narcotics and contraband online. Participants at this first-ever international meeting of law enforcement on the criminal exploitation of virtual currencies voiced concerns over the anonymity of financial transactions through some virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, and the challenges this poses to ‘following the money’ during criminal investigations.

The meeting also addressed the development of Bitcoin ATMs and the growing number of merchants accepting virtual currencies, now estimated at 26,000, that could continue to expose virtual currencies to abuse by criminal networks.?

Ongoing criminal cases involving virtual currencies, which are currently allegations contained in pending criminal charges, include the virtual currency Liberty Reserve, which is alleged to have conducted 55 million illicit transactions and laundered up to USD 6 billion in criminal proceeds.?

Also noted were pending charges against the administrator of the online marketplace Silk Road, who was arrested by US law enforcement after allegedly accepting up to 9.5 million Bitcoins for the sale of hundreds of kilogrammes of illegal narcotics and other contraband. Investigators also revealed the use of Bitcoins in the alleged online sale of a toxic substance purportedly for use in a homicide.

Olivier Burgersdijk, Head of Strategy at EC3, emphasised how shifting the focus of law enforcement towards the dynamics of virtual payment schemes is essential to fight organised crime effectively in the future.

The participants pledged cooperation and continued information sharing on the developments of the criminal use of virtual currencies.

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Keywords: Bitcoin, regulation, online fraud, digital currency, crypto-currency, online payments, online sales
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Fraud & Financial Crime