99% of law enforcement needs more crypto-focused training: Survey

Roughly 61% of respondents of a TRM Labs survey said they lack sufficient technology to meet crypto criminals’ most advanced threats

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Dzelat/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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While law enforcement professionals expect the prevalence of crypto investigations to rise, most don’t feel well enough equipped for such a future. 

Respondents of a survey commissioned by blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs estimate that 40% of offenses investigated by their agencies involved crypto. They expect that number to be 51% by 2027.

US law enforcement organization staffers accounted for 93% of the more than 300 people surveyed. They were employed for at least one year at such entities, and were involved in one or more crypto-related investigations in the past 12 months. 

While more than half of federal agency respondents polled currently use blockchain analytics tools, just 11% of the state agencies surveyed are doing so.

Read more: Crypto tax evasion cases are on the rise: Bloomberg

Roughly 61% said they lack sufficient technology to meet the most cutting-edge threats from crypto criminals. Though nearly 90% say their organizations provide some crypto-related training, 99% reported needing more. 

Ari Redbord, TRM Labs’ global head of policy, said the survey reflects the lawful and illicit facets of crypto ecosystem growth. There is no such thing as “crypto crime,” he argued.

“Crypto, like cash, is used in the commission of all kinds of criminal activity,” Redbord told Blockworks. “That is why we are seeing crypto used in more and more cases. That is why every investigator and every prosecutor needs to have the tools and training necessary to investigate the blockchain.”

About $1.7 billion worth of crypto was stolen through hacks between January and November of 2023, TRM Labs data shows — on pace to be less than half the amount seen last year. 

The bridge connecting the HTX exchange and Ethereum was exploited for about $87 million in crypto assets last month. This came about two weeks after crypto exchange Poloniex suffered unauthorized withdrawals.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) listed four crypto-related cases among its top 10 cases in 2023. 

Perhaps more notably on the crypto-related crime front, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of wire fraud and other charges in November. That same month, competitor exchange Binance pleaded guilty to operating as an unlicensed money transmitting business and violating sanctions laws.

Read more: Yellen: Historic Binance settlement “sends message” to crypto industry

Nearly four of five survey respondents called investment in blockchain analytics a “critical” or “high” priority.“

Yet, not all these intentions have been translated into action,” the TRM Labs report states. “Over half of respondents identified the lack of investigators, expertise and funding as the top three obstacles that remain to be overcome for law enforcement to gain the upper hand in fighting crypto crime.”


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