On February 17, The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the establishment of a new FBI unit to combat crypto-related crimes. The unit, called Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit, will focus on tracking and seizing cryptocurrencies gained via unlawful means.
Per the announcement, the new FBI crypto unit is 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 new unit will work in alignment with the Justice Department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). The revelation of a new FBI department came as part of the DOJ’s announcement naming the first director of NCET, Eun Young Choi.
Before joining the NCET, Choi served as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General. Before that, She also worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She noted in the announcement:
“The department has been at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting crimes involving digital currencies since their inception. The NCET will play a pivotal role in ensuring that as the technology surrounding digital assets grows and evolves, the department in turn accelerates and expands its efforts to combat their illicit abuse by criminals of all kinds.”
The news comes a day after blockchain security firm Chainalysis reported that about $11 billion worth of cryptocurrencies has illicit sources, such as stolen funds, darknet market funds, scams, and more. In addition, 4068 criminal whale addresses held more than $25 billion worth of cryptocurrencies in 2021.