Feds Seize Cryptocurrency In Major Crackdown

(PresidentialWire.com)- According to the US Secret Service, since 2015 the agency has seized over $100 million in cryptocurrency in its ongoing effort to crack down on fraudulent digital currency transactions.

In an interview with CNBC, David Smith, the assistant director of the Secret Service’s Office of Investigations, said his office has been tracking cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin on the blockchain to prevent and combat fraud.

Smith said tracking a digital wallet is no different from tracking an email address “that has some correlating identifiers.” Once a transaction is made between two people, it gets into the blockchain, and the Secret Service can track the email address linked to the wallet and trace it through the blockchain.

In the last seven years, the Secret Service has seized $102 million in cryptocurrency involving over 250 cases. Among those nabbed in the effort is a Russian cybercrime group that uses a cryptocurrency exchange to launder illicit funds. The Secret Service also blocked a ransomware operation linked to North Korean and Russian cybercriminals.

A spokesperson for the Secret Service said the agency continues to evolve to meet new cyber threats. While using crypto and digital assets for investments and transactions aren’t inherently criminal, the spokesperson said, they do give criminals a new opportunity to “exploit a vulnerability or a new opportunity.”

On Monday, the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Treasury Department said in an advisory that a North Korean cybercrime group has targeted several organizations in the cryptocurrency agency. The group is tricking users to download fake crypto applications through their devices and then using those applications to gain access to the network and obtain private information.

The FBI recently announced that the North Korean hackers, the Lazarus Group, stole over $620 million in cryptocurrency in March from the virtual game Axie Infinity.

In March, the Department of Treasury sanctioned two Chinese nationals for their involvement in a 2018 cyber breach involving stolen crypto. This breach was also linked to the Lazarus Group.

According to the FBI, North Korean cybercriminals are engaging in cryptocurrency theft “to generate revenue for the regime.”