US Government Creates Cyber Fraud Task Force to Put an End to Crypto Crime
The US Secret Service is hoping to put an end to the increasing money-laundering cases that have erupted with the rise of COVID-19, by creating a special division, dubbed the Cyber Fraud Task Force (CFTF).
COVID-19 and its New Wave of Cybercrime
With COVID-19 disrupting the economy worldwide, cybercriminals have been capitalizing on the chaos created by the pandemic in order to conduct their fraudulent activities. The number of ongoing illicit activities — from finance-related thefts to private data being sold illegally on the dark web — has certainly increased, with technology being increasingly pervasive.
US Secret Service Presents CFTF
The US Secret Service decided to merge two of its departments in March 2020, in order to better address traditional and cyber-related financial crimes. It combined the Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs) and Financial Crimes Task Forces (FCTFs) to create a single division, CFTF. The US Secret Service is hoping that in the future, they can expand this part of their security network and implement this system across the globe, in its many offices — 160 to be exact — located in various parts of the world.
Cyber Fraud Investigators vs. Traditional Fraud Investigators
The CFTF will combine the expertise of both ECTFs and FCTFs to put an end to cyber-enabled financial theft, which ranges from Business Email Compromises (BECs) scams to data breaches. In order to be effective at tracking illicit online activities and to put an end to it, CFTF investigators need to be able to analyze a computer network, trace an IP address and coordinate with internet service providers to detect suspicious activity. This is a very different task than that required of traditional fraud investigators, who have to identify counterfeit fiat money, track fraudulent wire transfers, and work in collaboration with traditional financial institutions if they wished to terminate money fraud activities conducted the traditional way.
Crypto is New and Exciting, But Use With Caution
Earlier this year, the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has urged social media and messaging companies that are using cryptocurrencies to be extremely vigilant regarding illegal transactions. Deputy Director of FinCEN Jamal El-Hindi spoke up regarding this subject matter, weighing the challenges faced by the financial industry when it came to transparency:
“Our Anti-Money Laundering (AML) principles generally revolve around promoting appropriate transparency of transactions for the benefit of both the financial institutions processing them and FinCEN’s law enforcement stakeholders. But the complexity of the transactions and relationships in your space present a challenge to transparency [...] we have to recognize that the culture of any highly competitive industry may discourage sharing customer information for the purpose of anti-money laundering or other financial crime prevention.”
As online transactions are on the rise and more common due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, government officials are resorting to more innovative strategies to improve online regulation pertaining to cybercrime.
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