Criminal use of crypto is an ’emerging threat’ according to Australian police

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Australia’s federal law enforcement agency has highlighted the criminal use of cryptocurrency as an “emerging threat” in the country, but says it’s an ongoing challenge to keep pace with criminals.

A spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) told Cointelegraph that there has been “an increase in the number of criminals using cryptocurrencies to facilitate illicit business and attempt to conceal ownership of assets”, noting :

“Criminal use of cryptocurrency is an emerging threat to law enforcement.”

However, they admitted that the biggest challenge for law enforcement is to “continuously evolve” their “tools, techniques and legal frameworks” to keep pace with criminals, especially as the widespread adoption of cryptocurrency is increasing.

Last month, AFP created a new cryptocurrency unit focused on monitor crypto-related transactions.

However, the spokesperson said that despite the previous creation of crypto-focused units, “criminals continue to find opportunities to evade law enforcement and exploit the public.”

Misplaced focus?

An Australian private detective believes AFP has yet to focus on “prolific and profitable” crypto crime – online investment fraud.

IFW Global Executive Chairman Ken Gamble told Cointelegraph that AFP has recently focused primarily on crypto money laundering related to drug trafficking, cyber intrusion, ransomware, compromise emails and hacking, but not “large-scale online investment fraud”.

Scamwatch data between January and July this year found that the Australians had lost A$242.5 million ($152.6 million) to scammers in 2022 already, with majority of funds lost to investment scams, including romance baiting scams, classic Ponzi schemes and cryptocurrency scams.

The figure is already 36% higher than for the whole of 2021.

The investigator also believes that some law enforcement agencies are still not fully equipped to handle cryptocurrency cases, adding that “law enforcement needs better training and education. on how cryptocurrency works.

A report by analytics firm Chainalysis in July found that 74% of state agencies felt under-equipped to investigate cryptocurrency-related crimes, with respondents indicating that many agencies were not using tools. analysts specializing in blockchain.

“There is a shortage of professional, certified cryptocurrency tracers quickly involving the criminal industry,” Gamble said.

Related: Put your hands up! Interpol bursts into the metaverse

That may soon change, with a number of international and national authorities announcing the creation of crypto-focused units this year.

Meanwhile, Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) recently create a task force in Singapore to help the government fight crimes involving virtual assets.

Interpol Secretary Jürgen Stock told Interpol’s General Assembly in India the need for further crypto training for law enforcement, saying cryptocurrency ‘poses a challenge’ , because the agencies were “not properly trained and properly equipped from the start”.

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