Federal law enforcement in Australia has cited cryptocurrency crime as a "growing threat" to the nation, although they acknowledge that keeping up with criminals is a constant issue.
The rise of crypto crime
According to an AFP official (1), there has been a rise in the number of criminals utilizing cryptocurrency to assist illicit activity and trying to disguise the ownership of assets; the use of cryptocurrencies for illegal purposes is a growing concern to law enforcement." Nevertheless, they acknowledged that the largest difficulty for law enforcement is to "continually improve its tools, strategies, and legal frameworks" to stay up with criminals, particularly as popular acceptance of cryptocurrencies rises.
The AFP created a new cryptocurrency branch last month to keep track of transactions using cryptocurrencies. However, the spokeswoman added that criminals "continue to find methods to dodge law enforcement and abuse the public" despite the earlier creation of crypto-focused teams.
According to one Australian private detective, online investment fraud is the "prolific and profitable" cybercrime that the AFP has not yet prioritized. According to Ken Gamble, executive chairman of IFW Global, the AFP has recently focused mostly on cryptocurrency money laundering related to drug trafficking, hacking, ransomware, and email breach rather than "large-scale online investment fraud."
Australians have already lost 242.5 million Australian dollars ($152.6 million) to scammers in 2022, according to Scamwatch data (2) collected between January and July of this year. Most of the money was lost to investment scams, such as romance baiting, traditional Ponzi schemes, and cryptocurrency scams. The amount is already 36% more than it was for the entire year of 2021. The investigator also stated that "law enforcement agencies need greater training and instruction on how cryptocurrency works" and that "certain law enforcement departments are still not completely qualified to handle crypto crime cases."
What's the government's stance on this?
According to research released by the analytics company Chainalysis (3), 74% of governmental agencies felt ill-prepared to investigate cryptocurrency crimes. Respondents also noted that many agencies did not employ specific blockchain analysis tools. With several international and national agencies announcing the creation of crypto-crime-focused divisions this year, this may soon change.
The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has also recently established a specialized squad in Singapore to assist the authorities in tackling crimes involving virtual assets. According to Interpol Secretary Jürgen Stock, who made the statement at Interpol's general assembly in India, law enforcement agencies need more training in cryptocurrency. He claimed that using cryptocurrency poses a challenge because agencies are not properly trained and equipped from the beginning.