The US Secret Service has seized more than $102 million worth of cryptocurrencies in 254 fraud-related investigations. “Criminals somehow want to muddy the waters and try to cover up their activities,” said the deputy director of the intelligence agency’s Investigative Bureau. “What we want to do is pursue that as quickly as possible, as aggressively as possible and in a linear manner.”

US Secret Service Seizes $102 Million in Cryptocurrency

A senior US intelligence official, David M. Smith, spoke about cryptocurrencies in an interview with CNBC published on Tuesday.

Smith is a senior executive and special agent who currently serves as the 28th Deputy Director of the US Secret Service Office of Investigations, where he leads the agency’s global investigative mission, which spans 161 offices and over 3,000 employees.

The Secret Service is responsible for tracking down, investigating, and arresting any individual who violates certain laws related to financial systems. “In recent years, digital assets have increasingly been used to facilitate a growing number of crimes, including various fraud schemes and the use of ransomware,” the website describes.

Smith told the news outlet that Secret Service agents and analysts are actively tracking the flow of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the blockchain, stating:

When you follow a digital currency wallet, it is no different than an email address, which has a few correlating identifiers.

“And once a person and another person makes a transaction and it gets on the blockchain, we have the ability to track that email address or wallet address, if you will, and track it through the blockchain,” confirmed the deputy director.

According to statistics compiled by the agency, since 2015, the Secret Service has seized more than $102 million in cryptocurrency from criminals in connection with 254 cases of fraud-related investigations, the publication said.

Noting that “one of the things about cryptocurrency is that it moves money faster than the traditional format,” Smith emphasized that the fast transaction speeds make crypto attractive to both American consumers and criminals. “What criminals want to do is muddy the waters and make efforts to cover up their activities,” he noted. “What we want to do is pursue that as quickly as possible, as aggressively as possible and in a linear manner.”

The deputy director explained that as soon as the Secret Service discovers illegal activity, it works to “dig a little deeper into those transactions and deconstruct them.” Smith said:

You are emailing me something bad, I know there is criminal activity associated with this email address, I can deconstruct, find all the tidbits of information you used when you first connected to this one E-mail address registered or registered.

Smith further shared that investigators are finding increasing numbers of thieves converting stolen BTC and other cryptocurrencies into stablecoins. He said, “Because, you know, criminals are people too. They want to avoid some of that market volatility associated with some of the big coins.”

What do you think of the Secret Service’s work to crack down on crypto-related fraud? Let us know in the comment section below.

Kevin Helms

As an Austrian economics student, Kevin discovered Bitcoin in 2011 and has been an evangelist ever since. His interests lie in Bitcoin security, open source systems, network effects and the interface between economics and cryptography.

photo credit: Shutterstock, Pixabay, WikiCommons

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