The allure of cryptocurrency is hard to dismiss. The national media outlets love to tell stories of crypto-millionaires or significant hacking efforts with cryptocurrencies or digital assets. Unfortunately, while there are many benefits surrounding, creating, and using digital coins or tokens, there will always be someone who can find a malicious use for new technology by means of cryptocurrency crime.
Cryptocurrency, or just crypto, began as a paper written in 2008 by the unknown individual, Satoshi Nakamoto; a year later, Bitcoin became a reality as an open-sourced software solution for digital currency. Today, Bitcoin remains the number-one cryptocurrency globally by market cap. The top five projects (coins and tokens) recently have been Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, BNB, and USDC. Check out each of these links to understand what they are and what they can do.
“What they can do” refers to the actual use cases of crypto. The original intent behind the invention of Bitcoin creates a utopian style of currency where no single person has a say in how it’s run. Today you’ll find projects that have set out to solve issues with privacy, open national identification, and currency that’s not quite as volatile as Bitcoin.
While crypto is growing in popularity, there is still a fundamental flaw: it’s almost always traceable. The International Criminal Police Organization, better known as INTERPOL, has an entire division dedicated to investigating digital crimes. Their worldwide jurisdiction includes 195 partner countries working together. INTERPOL’s specialty in this space includes cryptocurrency tracing and darknet (also known as dark web) monitoring for cryptocurrency crimes. As a result, they’ve got quite the swath of power and tools.
The Darknet we know today was once known as the darknet. Notice the difference in how the former remains uncapitalized, as opposed to the Darknet we know today. For simplicity, I’ll refer to it as just darknet but know that I’m referring to the modern version. Much like the intention of cryptocurrencies, the darknet wasn’t created to associate with bad actors or their activities. In fact, it wasn’t “created” at all.
The darknet was simply a place on the internet but not part of the internet. In the 1970s, the term “darknet” designate networks outside of ARPANET, the system that became today’s internet.
However, it wasn’t long until this area of the internet would be used for shady reasons. The first drug transaction took place in 1971 (yes, it seriously did) when some students from MIT and Stanford traded marijuana using ARPANET.
Today the darknet has become a haven for selling drugs, hiring assassins (attempting to), pirated software, organizing human trafficking, and organized crime and terrorist meeting points. There are some excellent uses for it, too. For instance, it offers political targets to avoid censorship and helps protect people in regime states to communicate with outside nations.
As unfortunate as it is, the bad outweighs the good on the darknet. If you don’t know what you’re doing, I don’t advise anyone to connect or look around the darknet without doing proper research. There are sites that one may consider heinous- and I don’t use that term lightly. Other areas you might end up in may get you a knock on the door from a federal agent if you ask the wrong questions or try to purchase something using cryptocurrency to avoid the government.
Europol and Cryptocurrency Crimes
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known under the name Europol, notes in their Cryptocurrencies: Tracing the Evolution of Criminal Finances report, “Criminals, in particular cybercriminals, took advantage of the [favorable] environment and started using cryptocurrencies for trading on the [darknet] and as part of fraud and extortion schemes. Bitcoins have always been traceable and are not completely anonymous.” Once a place unknown, the darknet has become a place to avoid.
Legal Teams for Cryptocurrency Crimes
The realms of crypto and darknet are vast. However, as they thwart law enforcement, few legal teams qualify to handle these types of cases. If you think you may have done something wrong on the darknet or believe you are being investigated for a potential cryptocurrency crime, I highly recommend an experienced federal criminal defense attorney for representation; contact Kenney Legal Defense.