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American News Feb 18, 2022 1:35 PM EST

FBI to form cryptocurrency enforcement unit

The specialized unit is focused on "virtual asset exploitation."

FBI to form cryptocurrency enforcement unit
Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

The Biden administration has ramped up its efforts to tackle crypto-crime with the creation of a new FBI unit dedicated to policing crime involving virtual currencies.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced via press release the creation of the "Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit," a specialized team of cryptocurrency experts "dedicated to providing analysis, support, and training across the FBI, as well as innovating its cryptocurrency tools to stay ahead of future threats."

The DOJ says the specialzied unit will deal with blockchain analysis, as well as seizure of virtual assets when necessary.

The creation of the Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit coincides with the DOJ naming Eun Young Choi as the first director of its National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). Choi will lead the team.

The NCET was established in October 2021, "to ensure the department meets the challenge posed by the criminal misuse of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, and comprises attorneys from across the department, including prosecutors with backgrounds in cryptocurrency, cybercrime, money laundering and forfeiture.

Choi has extensive experience in the field of cyber crime, dealing with "network intrusions, digital currency, the dark web and national security investigations" as an Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, according the press statement. She served as lead prosecutor in a number of high-profile cases, including investigations into the hacking of major financial institutions.

The move by the federal law enforcement agency comes amid a rising number of cyber attacks and crypto-related crimes. The need for cryptocurrency experts in law enforcement is growing, as crimes related to virtual assets continue to rise.

As Reuters reports, in early February, a New York couple were charged with allegedly laundering $4.5 billion in Bitcoin in 2016 when the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex was hacked. A growing number of cybercriminals have also started demanding ransom payments in cryptocurrency.

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