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The rise in crypto hacks and scams has been unprecedented. Chainalysis reports that crypto scammers wiped over $7.7 billion of cryptocurrency in 2021.
In a bid to step up its efforts to combat crypto crimes, the Department of Justice announced the formation of a new unit in the FBI. US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco revealed this while speaking at the Munich Cyber Security Conference on Thursday.
According to her, the special unit will be called the Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit. The unit will help bridge the gap in law enforcement in the digital assets space. Consequently, the team will include cryptocurrency experts. The team will be able to perform blockchain analysis for use in tracking and seizing illicit funds.
The announcement comes barely four months after the department formed the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team. Together, these two teams will now monitor the criminal misuse of the cryptocurrency market.
Monaco noted that:
“Ransomware and digital extortion, like many other crimes fueled by cryptocurrency, only work if the bad guys get paid, which means we have to bust their business model.”
As such, she implored companies to report such cases to the FBI.
Crypto Crimes Need Tougher Hand
The rise in crypto hacks and scams has been unprecedented. Chainalysis reports that crypto scammers wiped over $7.7 billion of cryptocurrency in 2021. There are projections that these figures will increase even further as adoption grows.
In like manner, the FBI has sought to stay ahead of the curve by deploying extensive resources to unveil crypto crimes. It has also enjoyed some significant success, recovering $3.6 billion from Bitfinex hackers. Despite these successes, the FBI is taking proactive steps, including an investigation into 100 ransomware variants.
A press release further announced former senior counsel to the AG, Eun Young Choi, as head of NCET. According to the release, Eun Young Choi will serve as the first Director of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET).
AG Monaco noted that the government plans launch an International Virtual Currency Initiative. The initiative will pull resources from law enforcement across international boundaries to track funds through the blockchain.
“I think we are sending a message that cryptocurrencies and virtual currencies should not be considered a safe haven,” Monaco asserted. She also reaffirmed the department’s poise to root out abuse in the system.