Police over on the other side of the “pond” in Britain “have seized a record-breaking haul of cryptocurrency.” What they call £180 million in London is worth $249 million here in the states. Just last month, Britain set the previous record for digital wallet seizures. Looks like Prince Chuck will be able to afford a whole bunch of new crown jewels when he takes the throne.
Cryptocurrency asset transfer fad
London’s Metropolitan Police announced recently that they cashed in the “largest amount of cryptocurrency ever seized by police in the U.K.” They snagged the digital coinage after their Economic Crime Command “received intelligence relating to the transfer of criminal assets.”
An unnamed 39-year-old woman was walked out in cuffs on June 24 when the Met raided her on suspicion of money laundering. They were clued in to her involvement by the previous seizure. They brought her back in for more questioning after the second, larger, confiscation. For now, she’s out on bail until late July.
According to a press statement released by Met deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty, new technologies are “helping criminal operations to evolve.” Cash is still the currency of choice for criminals but “as digital platforms develop we’re increasingly seeing organized criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money.”
He rather carefully did not give “any specific information on any illicit activities” the seized crypto “was linked to.” Other than the money laundering, that is.
Only a few short years ago, nobody ever heard of digital currency. “Whilst some years ago this was fairly unchartered territory, we now have highly trained officers and specialist units working hard in this space to remain one step ahead of those using it for illicit gain,” McNulty explains. Cryptocurrency is obviously here to stay. “We have worked hard to trace this money and identify the criminality it may be linked to.
Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the center of this suspected money laundering operation,” Detective constable Joe Ryan adds.
Don’t blame it on the Bitcoin
CNN points out that Cryptocurrency is an all-digital money system made up of “coins” or “tokens” that are controlled by a decentralized ledger. That’s why criminals are so hot on using it.
As Reuters notes, digital currencies “are largely anonymous, convenient and global in nature,” so it’s no surprise that “some of the world’s biggest criminal groups have bet big on them as a way to launder money and stay one step ahead of the police, tax and security forces.” Police say they crapped out. Crypto is perfectly secure as currency. It’s also totally traceable from hand to hand.
Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing recently released information on a cryptocurrency confiscation of funds which had been transferred to Hamas. A whole bunch of different flavors were snagged.
The seizure included currencies “other than Bitcoin” like “Tether, Ether, XRP and more.” Investigators are totally certain that the funds were “meant for, but not limited to, the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades” which happens to be the military wing of Hamas.
Authorities first noticed “a sizable uptick in cryptocurrency donations to Hamas in May,” thanks to a report by the Wall Street Journal. As explained by Omri Segev Moyal, CEO of the cyber crisis company Profero, “the bureau was able to locate and seize the supposedly untraceable currency.” It’s easy. “Once you go beyond the boundaries of the blockchain to the worlds of exchange platforms, you immediately lose anonymity and then, as in the present case, states and law enforcement agencies are able to locate and freeze the currencies used by criminal and terrorist organizations.”
Not only that, “when the network is completely exposed, you can very accurately track the trajectory of the coins and locate their final destination.” Bitcoin and all the other varieties are “safe currency, and it is precisely these perceptions that should encourage regulators to adopt and use it, as it makes it possible to expose the bad and do good with the good.”