Lilita Infante, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent from Cyber Investigative Task Force, claims that criminals have fallen out love with crypto. According to her, BTC is now less used for malicious purposes and more — for speculation, writes Bloomberg.com
BTC transactions have long been associated with the criminal world. Thus, it has been claimed that the Russian hackers who have allegedly hacked the files of the American Democratic Party have used BTC. Before that the European police, Europol, which has expressed concern about the issue, seized 5,2 million worth of BTC and 800 000 doses of LSD from European drug lords. Yet according to Infante, the tables have turned, at least partially.
If five years ago “her analysis of blockchain data showed criminal activity was behind about 90 percent of transactions in the cryptocurrency” now the illegal activity is visible in only 10% of the cases. An 80% decrease is certainly impressive and yet it is too early to celebrate, as the motley criminal crew is nowhere close to giving up. Besides, the total transaction volume has surged significantly since 2013.
“The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased. The majority of transactions are used for price speculation,’’ Infante noted.
Forget privacy-based coins
While Infante acknowledges that its department is dealing with the tricky Darkweb as well as multiple anonymous transactions it does not feel discouraged at all. In fact, it is totally the opposite, as the blockchain technology is as advantageous for the law enforcement agencies as for anyone else.
“Bitcoin and other blockchains are public and immutable, providing a valuable resource for agents to track transactions and patterns, and while wallet addresses once obscured users’ identities, Infante said, “not anymore.’’
She revealed that the majority of the dealings are still performed in BTC. It is more liquid and perhaps more popular than Monero and Zcash, which might be added to Coinbase. The latter are known for their privacy-based concept which is why the already mentioned Europol, is looking to establish ways to keep an eye on them as well as other similar coins, like Dash, Bitcoin Private and Verge.
And it turns out that is possible to do that indeed. Infante confessed that she is not concerned about these types of coins, as law agencies can track them equally well and know the ways. She also added that “traffickers and money launderers exchange Bitcoin for fiat currencies in over-the-counter and peer-to-peer exchanges, though they also go through major U.S.-based exchanges.”
While Infante is concerned about the matter and emphasizes that the criminal world is likely to continue utilizing cryptocurrency for not so virtuous purposes, she does not have a problem with that.
“The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them,” she concluded.