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FBI Forms New Crypto Crimes Unit as DOJ Names Enforcement Team Director

The new unit will focus on cryptocurrency and related matters, while the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team finds its leader.

2 min read
FBI offices in Washington, D.C. Image: Shutterstock

In brief

  • The United States FBI has established a Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit to focus on cryptocurrency-related cases.
  • Also, the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team has named its first director, Eun Young Choi.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched a Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit focused on cryptocurrency-related crimes, the Department of Justice announced today.

The news was revealed as part of an announcement naming the first director for the Justice Department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), which was established in October 2021. Eun Young Choi, previously Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, will serve as the NCET’s inaugural director.

According to a Justice Department release, the FBI’s new Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit will be “a specialized team of cryptocurrency experts dedicated to providing analysis, support, and training across the FBI, as well as innovating its cryptocurrency tools to stay ahead of future threats.”

The unit will tie into the NCET’s own mission across the larger footprint of the Justice Department, which includes the FBI along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and other governmental agencies.

"We have already made great strides in combating misuse of cryptocurrency platforms and we've shown—we won't hesitate to go after those platforms that help criminals launder or hide their criminal proceeds,” said U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco upon the formation of NCET in October. “It is a crowded and aggressive threat landscape."

Today’s announcements come soon after the Department of Justice arrested Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife Heather Morgan for alleged money laundering in connection to the $3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin stolen from cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex in 2016.

Morgan, a self-proclaimed rapper and Forbes contributor, was released on bail on Tuesday while Lictenstein remains in custody pending trial.

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