The U.S. Justice Department has announced the launch of a new investigative team focused on disrupting “criminal misuse” of cryptocurrency. Dubbed the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, or NCET, for short, the team will target crooked crypto exchanges, money launderers, and other unsavory elements that occupy the dark recesses of the digital currency underworld.
“Today we are launching the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team to draw on the department’s cyber and money laundering expertise to strengthen our capacity to dismantle the financial entities that enable criminal actors to flourish—and quite frankly to profit—from abusing cryptocurrency platforms,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement. “As the technology advances, so too must the department evolve with it so that we’re poised to root out abuse on these platforms and ensure user confidence in these systems.”
Since its inception, cryptocurrency has been a hotbed of fraud, money laundering, and pretty much every other financial crime you can think of. At times, the degree to which nefarious deeds have defined the industry has been absurd, if not downright hilarious. From that perspective, it just makes sense that law enforcement would want to crack down on the industry’s worst actors. Even more relevantly, however, crypto has largely been blamed for fueling the ransomware crisis in America—a threat that federal law enforcement is increasingly looking to combat.
As such, NCET will look to “deter, disrupt, investigate, and prosecute criminal misuse of cryptocurrency, as well as to recover the illicit proceeds of those crimes whenever possible,” the Justice Department said in its press release Wednesday. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite further commented that the new team would carry on the work that the Justice Department’s Criminal Division already undertakes to fight crime on cryptocurrency platforms.
“The Criminal Division is already an established leader in investigating and prosecuting the criminal misuse of cryptocurrency,” Polite said. “The creation of this team will build on this leadership by combining and coordinating expertise across the division in this continuously evolving field to investigate and prosecute the fraudulent misuse, illegal laundering, and other criminal activities involving cryptocurrencies.”