The United States Secret Service has seized over $100 million worth of digital assets from malicious actors in fraud-related investigations over the past seven years, CNBC reported.
The federal agency revealed that it has handled around 254 cases since 2015 and that its activities have been yielding positive results, and that it has no intention of backing out anytime soon.
Secret service reveals that it tracks Bitcoin transactions on the blockchain
According to the agency’s assistant director of investigations, David Smith, the agency’s success is rooted in how multiple agents and analysts actively track the flow of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the blockchain.
This tactic adopted by the Secret Service, an agency more prominent for its protection of US presidents, is similar to an old-fashioned surveillance style.
Smith noted that following a digital currency wallet is closely similar to following an email address with some correlating identifiers.
“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.”
Also, one of the advantages of crypto appears to have made it a potent tool in the hands of these criminals. As Smith explained,
“One of the things about cryptocurrency is it moves money at a faster pace than the traditional format.”
Some cases handled by the agency
Notable among the cases handled by the agency is an investigation that targeted about 900 victims across the United States.
This particular case, handled alongside the Romanian National Police, involved a scheme that posted fake luxury items and ads on sales and auctions sites, then delivered fake invoices to their victims, making it look like the transaction involved legitimate businesses.
The Secret Service stated that the perpetrators of this scheme then converted their ill-gotten wealth into digital assets, which is part of the now seized funds.
Another of the cases handled by the agency involved a Russian cybercrime syndicate that used a crypto exchange to launder funds, plus cases involving Bitcoin ransomware payments to criminals in North Korea and Russia.
US crypto seizures
While the US Secret Service is the latest federal agency to reveal its effort towards protecting US businesses and investors from the malicious actors in the crypto space, other federal agencies have also made substantial efforts towards helping to cleanse the space of illegal activities.
All of these seizures have culminated in the US government holding about $4 billion worth of Bitcoin, which makes it one of the largest holders of the flagship asset behind Grayscale and Microstrategy.