A fraud detective is on a mission to enlighten fellow police officers about the criminal uses of cryptocurrency.
Detective Joshua Lee, a fraud and organised crime expert in the Mesa Police Department in Arizona, says there is a lack of awareness among officers about the use of crypto in the drug trade, child pornography, and other criminal enterprises.
Writing on law enforcement news website PoliceOne.com, he says the first step to tackling crypto-crime is identification and tracking.
He cited a recent case where an officer in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and found cannabis and other drugs.
It turned out that the dealer was depositing his criminal cash soon after selling drugs, hiding the money from asset forfeiture detectives. The officer noted the receipts in his report, but didn’t refer the case to fraud detectives to follow up.
Lee said: “Cryptocurrency is not a fad, but a complex and serious issue that is here to stay.
“Lack of regulations, the ability to remain anonymous, and untrained police agencies only encourage criminal behaviour in the digital environment.
“Recognising and documenting basic cryptocurrency issues in your jurisdiction will help your agency take the first step needed to investigate cryptocurrency crime.”
Cryptocurrency receipts, he says, allow officers to match criminal transactions with the blockchain, while the use of digital wallets should be recorded soon after a computer or phone is seized.
Authorities throughout the world are stepping up powers to prevent money laundering using cryptocurrencies.
Ireland recently introduced powerful new laws to target criminals using crypto to conceal their illicit profits.