As cryptocurrency has become a ubiquitous part of modern finance, so too has it become the latest tool for criminals.
While this new currency may seem disorienting to newcomers who are still grappling with the underlying technology, the crimes surrounding cryptocurrency are as basic as they come. Most fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes bear a striking resemblance to conventional frauds with which society is all too familiar, from Ponzi schemes, to investment scams, to basic theft. Where we used to see bank robberies, now we see hacking of crypto wallets and exchanges. In 2021 alone, crypto fraudsters absconded with over US$14 billion worth of cryptocurrency, up from US$7.8 billion in 2020. See MacKenzie Sigalos, Crypto scammers took a record US$14 billion in 2021, CNBC.com (Jan. 6, 2022).
But as described by Newton’s Third Law of Motion, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Law enforcement has responded to the rising incidence of fraud by increasing resources to prosecute cryptocurrency scams, and regulators are similarly focused on imposing regulations to curb the fraud and protect investors.
While investigating and prosecuting such crime presents obstacles as the law and enforcement technology races to catch up, novel technologies are increasingly allowing investigators to overcome the pseudonymous nature of cryptocurrency.
Read the full New York Law Journal article, "Cryptocurrency crime: Examining age-old fraud with a modern twist."