FBI launches team to crack down on crypto mining: US Deputy Attorney General

Assistant United States Attorney General Lisa Monaco has announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will step up its efforts to c...


Assistant United States Attorney General Lisa Monaco has announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will step up its efforts to combat law enforcement in the digital asset space with the formation of a new team.

Speaking at the Munich Cybersecurity Conference on Thursday, Monaco noted the FBI was creating a “specialized team dedicated to cryptocurrency” called the Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit. The unit will include cryptography experts and will also have the means of blockchain analysis which could potentially be used to track and seize illicit funds.

The formation of the FBI team comes more than four months after Monaco announced the launch of the Justice Department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team. The two will work together to prosecute actors who “abuse cryptocurrency to commit crimes.”

“Ransomware and digital extortion, like many other cryptocurrency-fueled crimes, only work if the bad guys get paid, which means we need to break their business model,” Monaco said. “Currency may be virtual, but the message to businesses is real: if you let us know, we can track the money and not only help you, but hopefully prevent the next victim.”

Lisa Monaco speaking at the Munich Cybersecurity Conference on Thursday

The FBI is currently investigating 100 ransomware variants, which could lead to the potential seizure of cryptocurrency by US authorities. In addition to stepping up efforts to fight cybercrime in his country, Monaco said the Ministry of Justice would launch an international initiative on virtual currency enabling “more joint international law enforcement operations” to track criminals. funds via blockchain and encourage responsible regulation of digital assets.

Prior to the creation of the Justice Department’s Crypto Enforcement Team in October, a working group seized over $2 million in crypto used to pay a ransom following an attack on the United States colonial pipeline system. In its largest seizure to date, the the team took control of 3.6 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) and ordered the arrest of two individuals linked to the Bitfinex exchange hack in 2016.

Related: Making Sense of Bitfinex Bitcoin Billions

In addition to the FBI’s new crypto team, Monaco announced that its former lead attorney, Eun Young Choi, to manage National Cryptocurrency Combat Team as Director. Choi said she aims for the team to work to combat the illicit use of cryptography by criminals as the space grows and changes.