The United States Secret service is currently in the custody of more than $100 million worth of digital currencies it confiscated from at least 254 cybercrime cases it has been tracking since 2015. While the agency is best known for the security details it provides to American Presidents, it is also a very proficient criminal investigator as it relates to cybercrimes.
David Smith, assistant director of investigations told CNBC in an interview that there is a very close similarity between tracking an email address and a crypto wallet as both exhibit digital signatures.
“When you follow a digital currency wallet, it’s not different than an email address that has some correlating identifiers,” Smith said in an interview at the agency’s headquarters. “And once a person and another person make a transaction, and that gets into the blockchain, we have the ability to follow that email address or wallet address, if you will, and trace it through the blockchain.”
One of the cases the Secret Service cracked down on was in coordination with the Romanian National Police with over 900 American nationals targeted. The scheme featured fake ad posting of luxury goods online, and an accompanying invoice from reputable billing companies to make the projected sales look legitimate.
Once the targeted individual takes the bait, the culprits convert the funds into digital currencies, most of which are stored as stablecoins to wade off the effects of extreme volatility.
Staying Ahead of the Cybercrime Game
The US Secret Service is known to utilize high-level monitoring tools to stay ahead of criminal activities occurring in the nascent crypto industry. The agency is known for patronizing blockchain firms that can help it in its fight against cybercrime, a motive that made it acquire blockchain analytics software from Nasdaq-listed Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange.
The goal of the Secret Service is to stay ahead and maintain the swiftness it requires to prevent and apprehend cybercrime activities bordering on cryptocurrencies. In a bid to help law enforcement agencies and regulators keep track of events in the space, industry players like Chainalysis are inking new partnerships and raising new capital from various sources to develop analytics tools that can be used by all.