DOJ debuts ‘Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team’

  • The National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team was announced Wednesday.
  • The unit operates under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr.
  • The White House is reportedly considering a series of actions aimed at abusing digital currencies.

The Justice Department has formed a new unit to combat “criminal abuse of cryptocurrency,” a move that comes after hackers previously pocketed millions of dollars in bitcoin following an attack that paralyzed the largest fuel pipeline in the United States.

The new entity is called the “National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team” and will investigate and prosecute crime such as money laundering and the use of digital currencies such as bitcoin in

ransomware
attack. According to Temple University data, there were nearly 400 such attacks in the United States in 2020 alone, extorting millions of dollars from hospitals and local governments. In such incidents, hackers typically encrypt the victim’s data and demand payment to release it.

The goal of the new entity is to “strengthen our capacity to dismantle the financial entities that enable criminals to thrive – and frankly profit – by abusing cryptocurrency platforms,” ​​Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said Wednesday.

The attack on the Colonial Pipeline in May last year was allegedly carried out by a criminal group that has earned over $ 90 million in similar operations.

The new enforcement team will aim to deter and repel such attacks, “as well as to recover illegal proceeds from these crimes whenever possible,” the department said in a statement. It will also focus on the use of cryptocurrencies in drug and human trafficking.

In September, The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House was “preparing a series of actions, including sanctions, to make it harder for hackers to use digital currency.”

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