DEA special agent Lilita Infante has said that the ratio of criminal to legitimate use in terms of Bitcoin has dropped massively over the last five years – however, this does not mean that the total amounts of Bitcoin involved in criminal activity are necessarily lower.
Infante, who is a member of a 10-person Cyber Investigative Task Force which focuses on dark web and online crime, presented data and comments to Bloomberg this week. She clarified the data by saying: “The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased… The majority of transactions are used for price speculation.”
What the DEA task force is now seeing is that the vast majority of illegal Bitcoin and crypto uses are within organized crime syndicates and cartels, meaning that the transaction volumes are enormous. However, the instances of crime on a small level have lowered dramatically, which is good news for the more global perspective of Bitcoin. And while crypto is popular in the criminal underworld for the anonymity it provides, the transaction data that is based on public blockchains means that more data is available to enforcement agencies for trend analysis and precise figures.
In fact, Infante is keen for criminals to continue using crypto, as blockchain is so helpful in terms of the data it provides. She said: “The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them.”
The report comes only a few days after US claims that Russian intelligence officers used crypto to set themselves up in the hacking scandal that surrounded the 2016 US presidential election. According to the US government, the twelve Russian officers that were indicted, “conspired to launder the equivalent of more than $95,000 through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin”.
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