In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it is forming an enforcement team that will focus on cryptocurrency.
U.S. Deputy Attorney General, Lisa Monaco announced the decision on Wednesday at the Aspen Cyber Summit. In her statement, she said she wanted to “increase” the DOJ’s capability to disable the financial markets that cybercriminals exploit.
As part of the initiative, the U.S. Department of Justice, will also focus on civil cyber fraud
“Our national cryptocurrency enforcement team will be launched today,” she said. “The team has shown that it will never hesitate to go after cryptocurrency platforms that are used to launder or hide criminal proceeds. This is a crowded and aggressive threat landscape.”
The team would be made up of anti-money laundering, cybersecurity, and consumer protection experts.
She added that cryptocurrency exchanges want to become the banks of tomorrow. “We must ensure confidence in these systems when they are used by people.”
If they didn’t follow the cybersecurity standards recommended by Monaco, the civil cyber fraud initiative would pursue them.
In particular, the DOJ is targeting cryptocurrency thieves. Larry Harmon, an Ohio man, was recently convicted by the government agency for running a Bitcoin mixer, a tool that hides the source of Bitcoin funds.
Harmon pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in August after his crypto-scrambling service made it impossible for authorities to trace cryptocurrencies transactions.
Due to the government’s evidence that Helix largely served dark web sites, such as Alpha Bay, which was used to buy illicit drugs and a host of other illegal services, his privacy arguments were likely to fail.
“Helix laundered about 354,468 Bitcoins while working with Alpha Bay–about $300 million at the time, but that would now amount to billions of dollars,” the DOJ report said.
In the wake of Harmon’s arrest, IRS Criminal Investigation chief Don Fort said Harmon’s operation was focused on concealing criminal activity from authorities on the Darknet because of our increasing expertise in this area.