FBI Launches New Crypto Crimes Unit

The National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team will investigate ransomware and other crimes with tools including blockchain analysis.

Feb 17, 2022 at 4:55 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 18, 2022 at 5:23 p.m. UTC

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

The FBI is launching a new team to investigate crimes involving cryptocurrencies.

The National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), announced by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Thursday, will evaluate which types of crimes involving crypto might need more resources to investigate and prosecute these cases.

The team will be headed by longtime prosecutor Eun Young Choi, according to a press release.

Monaco announced the new unit during a keynote address at the Munich Cyber Security Conference, saying the unit will conduct its own blockchain analysis and seizing of assets involved in crimes.

"I think we are sending a message that cryptocurrencies and virtual currencies should not be considered a safe haven," Monaco said in a question and answer session following the keynote.

The team will focus on crypto exchanges, mixers, tumblers and other types of digital asset infrastructure providers that might allow for "the criminal misuse of cryptocurrencies," according to the release.

Ransomware will also be a key focus, according to Monaco, who said law enforcement officials have to "bust [the] business model" for launching these types of attacks.

"The NCET will enhance the Criminal Division’s existing efforts to provide support and training to federal, state, local and international law enforcement to build capacity to aggressively investigate and prosecute serious crimes involving cryptocurrency and digital assets in the United States and around the world," the release said.

The Department of Justice launched its own crypto enforcement team at the end of 2021, composed of anti-money laundering and cybercrime experts.

At the time, Monaco said "cryptocurrency exchanges want to be the banks of the future. Well, we need to make sure that folks can have confidence when they’re using these systems and we need to be poised to root out abuse."

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Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

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