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Crypto Avengers: DOJ Doubles Down, But Can They Save the Cryptoverse?

Key Takeaways
  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is doubling the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) to combat rising crypto crimes
  • The team will merge with the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS), and be led by Claudia Quiroz
  • This reflects a global move towards greater crypto regulation, signalling a crackdown on crypto misuse
21-Jul-2023 By: Amogh Mishra
Crypto Avengers: DOJ

US Bolsters Crypto Crime Team Amid Rising Threats

In an unprecedented move, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that it will be expanding the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), doubling its staff and strengthening its focus on cryptocurrency-related crimes. This comes in response to the rapid increase of crypto crimes across the globe, showcasing a stark need for regulation and oversight in the wild west of the crypto space.

The DoJ announced on July 20, emphasizing that the expansion would provide the NCET with additional resources to bolster its fight against crypto criminals. This expansion will involve integrating two DoJ teams: the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and the NCET. The merger will allow a broader pool of criminal division attorneys to work on criminal cryptocurrency matters, significantly amplifying the force’s capabilities.

Established in 2021, NCET has already proved its mettle by effectively investigating and prosecuting crimes involving the misuse of cryptocurrency. With this expansion, the NCET team will have access to additional computer crime and intellectual property work, which will help streamline their operations and bolster their reach. The integration with CCIPS is akin to supercharging the engine of the NCET, providing it with the necessary fuel to chase after the elusive crypto criminals.

Former Assistant Attorney Claudia Quiroz, who has been a part of the NCET since its inception, will lead the expanded team. Quiroz has been instrumental in navigating the complex legal landscape of cryptocurrencies, demonstrating adept leadership and exemplary commitment to the cause.

The origins of the NCET can be traced back to October 2021, when Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced its formation with the specific purpose of investigating criminal misuse of cryptocurrency, particularly by virtual currency exchanges. Under the stewardship of its first director, Eun Young Choi, NCET made significant strides in investigating prominent cases including the Binance investigation.

However, the increase in crypto crimes has necessitated a more robust approach. An alarming rise in thefts, hacks, and other crypto-related crimes has shown the need for a stronger regulatory framework. Blockchain-based ventures, particularly in the cryptocurrency space, have seen exponential growth, requiring governments around the world to keep pace and prevent misuse. The NCET has been pivotal in responding to this challenge, focusing on crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, and money laundering infrastructure actors, and aiding in the tracing and recovery of assets lost due to fraud and extortion.

As we move forward, it is imperative to remember that the digital age brings with it new forms of criminal tradecraft. Cryptocurrencies, due to their decentralized nature, can often be a haven for criminals. But as the NCET's expansion shows, law enforcement is up for the challenge.

The increasing sophistication of the NCET reflects a broader trend in the cryptocurrency industry. As crypto becomes more mainstream, so too do the efforts to regulate and oversee its use. The DoJ’s move is a timely and necessary step in the fight against crypto crimes and a clear signal that misuse and manipulation of cryptocurrencies will not be tolerated.

The message is clear: those thinking of exploiting cryptocurrencies for illicit gains, be warned. The strengthened NCET is watching, and it's more prepared than ever to ensure that the blockchain remains a safe and secure environment for all.

In my opinion, the expansion of NCET is an encouraging and vital step. While the appeal of cryptocurrencies lies in their decentralization and freedom from traditional regulatory frameworks, this very appeal can often lead to exploitation and crime. By fortifying NCET, the DoJ is making a clear statement: the world of crypto is no longer a wild west, but a space where law and order reign.

Also, read - FedNow: Fed's Another Attack to the Crypto Community

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