The US Secret Service (USSS) has been busy for sure. Since 2015, the USSS, which is known for protecting the nation’s presidents and elected officials, has been hunting down fraudulent cryptocurrency transactions. A total of $102 million in crypto assets has been seized since the USSS got on the job, working on more than 254 cases over the past seven years.
Crypto Fraud Shows on the Blockchain
Speaking to CNBC, USSS assistant director of investigations David Smith offered some light on the agency’s work and how it was using the innate functionalities of the blockchain to hunt down fraudulent transactions. He spoke highly of the ability of the public ledger to remain transparent no matter how hard criminals try to obfuscate their ill-gotten proceeds.
Smith explained that anyone with computing power had access to the ledger and law enforcement was becoming better at detecting and tracing dodgy payments across the blockchain. There is nothing unique, Smith argues, in the job they do. The USSS is using the exact tracking mechanisms that are available to independent investigators, blockchain vigilantes, and even consumers.
All of the seized money since 2015 has been tied to some form of fraudulent activity, the agent assured. The agency even collaborated with the Romanian National Police in a case of overseas fraudsters targeting US nationals based in the United States. This and other cases have been cracked open the same way most crypto investigations are, Smith explained:
“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.”
USSS assistant director of investigations David Smith
There is also another reason why even smart hackers are eager to unload hot funds. Many of them want to claim their full value before a price slump happens, for example, which is the case for most cryptocurrencies.
Criminals Are Only Humans
This prompts them to act hastily and tips off law enforcement which is able to either reveal the identities of the people involved or seize the money once they enter the mainstream banking system.
The USSS has been working hard to ensure that the public in the country understands the challenges of digital assets and cryptocurrencies. The agency launched a dedicated awareness hub in which it sought to increase people’s understanding of crypto and also how to avoid participating in illegal activities or falling victims to scams.
The USSS warned that crypto is used to conduct various frauds and demand ransomware payments, making them a preferred option for criminals.