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The CoinMetro Team

05.12.2018


Cryptocurrency Related Crimes and Investigation Challenges

Cryptocurrency Related Crimes and Investigation Challenges

As long as there is blockchain, there will be cryptocurrency related crimes that pose a real challenge to law enforcement agencies.

Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency that comes to mind when dealing with blockchain. The bad news is, blockchain related crimes don’t end with Bitcoin. There are plenty more cryptocurrencies and ways to use them illegally. The good news is, law enforcement has always evolved to solve even the most advanced technology crimes, which means that solving cryptocurrency crimes is just a matter of time.

The Main Cryptocurrencies and Illicit Use

According to INTERPOL, here are the main cryptocurrencies and related crimes:

Bitcoin

  • Money laundering
  • Extortion
  • Investment scams
  • Dark web websites*
  • Ransomware/Malware

*The dark web refers to encrypted online content that is not indexed on conventional search engines. The dark web is part of deep web, a wider collection of content that doesn’t appear through regular Internet browsing. A specific browser like Tor is required to access dark web sites.

Ethereum

  • Money laundering
  • ICO scams
  • Ponzi scheme*
  • Exit scams

*A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud which lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors by using funds obtained from more recent investors. Investors may be led to believe that the profits are coming from product sales, or other means, and remain unaware that other investors are the source of profits. A Ponzi scheme is able to maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as there continues to be new investors willing to contribute new funds and most of the investors do not demand full repayment and are willing to believe in the non-existent assets that they are purported to own.

It could be thought that Bitcoin and Ethereum are the main targets of criminals, but you may be surprised to learn in how many unrighteous ways Monero is used.

Monero

  • Blackmail/extortion
  • Forums (tips and advice)
  • Swapping and laundering of proceedings
  • Cryptojacking*
  • Deep websites
  • Mixing
  • Different marketplaces, CAM marketplace
  • Kidnapping

*Cryptojacking is a form of cyber attack in which a hacker hijacks a target’s processing power in order to mine cryptocurrency on the hacker’s behalf.

Zcash

  • Money Laundering
  • Extortion
  • Investment scams
  • Darknet markets

Dash

  • Money laundering
  • Buying fake identities
  • Online frauds
  • Extortion

Investigation Challenges

As emphasized by a representative of INTERPOL at Moontec’18, the main challenge on blockchain is to identify a user.

When it comes to cryptocurrency investigation, prosecutors are looking for ways to isolate an IP or email address and connect it to a particular person. As blockchain technology was created to be anonymous and secure, this is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do.

Thus, blockchain needs to become a place where criminals don’t feel secure. Law enforcement agencies should focus on the areas of blockchain where most cybercrimes are committed (see The Main Cryptocurrencies and Illicit Use).

The situation has to change for cryptocurrencies not be viewed as criminal currencies. Obviously, it’s impossible to drive all the criminals away from the Internet, but it is possible to come up with innovative ways to solve blockchain and cryptocurrency related crimes.

Do you think we’re riding a cybercrime wave? Can anything be done to improve the current situation? Speak up in the comments section below!

See you Friday!

The CoinMetro Team