The National Crime Agency (NCA), the UK’s national agency for combating digital organized crime, has announced plans to create a specialized team dedicated to dealing with cryptocurrency and virtual assets.
Report reveals 32% increase in UK crypto crimes
A new report by British police unit Action Fraud has revealed that cryptocurrency-related crimes in the United Kingdom have increased by 32% in the past year. The data, released on November 28, 2022, shows that from October 2021 to September 2022, crypto crimes resulted in losses totalling £226 million ($273 million).
According to UK Finance, this increase in crypto-related fraud is part of a larger trend of rising fraud and cybercrime in the country, with cases estimated to have increased by 8% to $1.5 billion in 2021.
Hinesh Shah, who is a forensic accountant at legal firm Pinsent Masons, commented on the findings, saying, “Whenever times are tough, fraudsters always seek to prey on less experienced investors by promising huge returns.”
This trend is evident in the recent rise of crypto-related frauds in the UK, with the nation’s Metropolitan Police recently taking down an international crypto scam ring in what has been described as the largest-ever fraud operation led by the force.
These developments highlight the need for increased awareness and caution when investing in cryptocurrencies and for stronger measures to be put in place to protect against fraud and cybercrime. As the use of cryptocurrencies continues to grow and evolve, similar trends will likely be seen in other countries.
NCA is hiring crypto investigators now
A job posting for the position of “cryptocurrency investigator” has been issued, seeking candidates with “strong experience” in conducting forensic blockchain investigations into serious and organized crime, and who can “provide strategic and tactical advice” during such investigations.
The team, consisting of five officers, will be formed as part of a project to address the growing problem of crypto fraud in the U.K.
The creation of a crypto-focused law enforcement team follows the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s decision to appoint “crypto tactical advisers” to police departments across the country last year, and a parliamentary vote in favor of expanding local authorities powers to seize cryptocurrency linked to criminal and terrorist activity.
The role of the investigator will be to support these efforts by conducting in-depth investigations into the use of cryptocurrency and virtual assets in connection with illegal activities.
Overall, the formation of the crypto and virtual assets team demonstrates the increasing recognition by law enforcement agencies of the importance of tackling crimes related to cryptocurrency and virtual assets. As these technologies continue to grow, similar initiatives will likely be rolled out in other countries as well.