The U.S. Secret Service has announced the launch of a cryptocurrency awareness hub, an online educational platform developed to aid the agency in its efforts to combat the illicit use of virtual assets.
In an announcement released last Friday, the U.S. Secret Service said that the new initiative seeks “to provide public awareness information on digital asset security,” as the agency intends to “continue to expand its capabilities, collaboration, and effectiveness related to all financial crimes investigations.”
The agency stressed that “investments and transactions using cryptocurrencies and digital assets are not inherently criminal,” while noting that they provide "new opportunities for those seeking to commit fraud or otherwise conceal further illegal activities."
In the announcement, the U.S. Secret Service also noted that “cryptocurrencies continue to become more popular forms of payments,” and for that reason the agency “must also remain at the forefront of both educating the public and combating financial fraud.”
“Our obligation to enforce crimes against the nation’s financial systems includes both informing the public on how digital assets work and partnering with them to identify, arrest, and prosecute those engaging in crimes involving digital assets," said Jeremy Sheridan, U.S. Secret Service Office of Investigations assistant director.
Our goal is to protect the nation’s financial infrastructure and maintain a safe environment for the American people to conduct financial transactions. Our mission is to investigate complex cyber-enabled financial crimes. https://t.co/Y2cTWHVX82 pic.twitter.com/OySIPUOpP4
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) February 18, 2022
At this point, the newly launched educational hub comprises a dozen crypto-related definitions, e.g. what Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology are, and how the leading cryptocurrency differs from altcoins or stablecoins. It also provides links to the agency’s previous news and announcements revolving around digital assets.
Crypto is just a tool
This is not the first time that the U.S. Secret Service has weighed in on the use of cryptocurrency for illicit ends.
In July 2020, when the agency created its Cyber Fraud Task Force, U.S. Secret Service cyber policy advisor Jonah Force Hill opined that the growing trend of cybercrimes “is not a specific cryptocurrency issue.”
"How the crime was committed, via crypto or not, or what form of money was stolen, is often irrelevant to the prosecution and therefore not quantified for statistical purposes," Hill said at the time.
The agency subsequently included several criminals with alleged ties to cryptocurrencies in last year's "Most Wanted Fugitives" list.
Last month, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis said that while crime involving cryptocurrencies surged to a new high of $14 billion in 2021, this activity represented just 0.15% of the total of $15.8 trillion in all crypto transaction volumes recorded over the course of the year—the lowest percentage ever.