The US Department of Justice has created a team to investigate cryptocurrency-related crime. The National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) will handle investigations of “crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering infrastructure actors,” the agency said in a news release. Mixing and tumbling services can obscure the source of a cryptocurrency transaction, by mixing it with other funds.
According to the organization, cryptocurrency is “used in a wide variety of criminal activity,” including ransomware demand payments, money laundering, and the unlawful trade of drugs, firearms, and software. Several high-profile ransomware attacks have incorporated cryptocurrency demands, notably the Colonial Pipeline attack in May, in which the business reportedly paid a $5 million ransom to DarkSide (the organization later apologized for the hack’s “social implications”). In addition, the Treasury Department sanctioned a bitcoin exchange for the first time last month.
The DOJ says the NCET, which will provide expertise in blockchain and cryptocurrency transactions for the Justice Department and other US government agencies, will draw team members from the DOJ’s money laundering, intellectual property, and computer crimes divisions, as well as from US attorneys’ offices across the country.