The truth about crypto crime


At last somebody has had the guts to stand up at an international event, in this case Money 20/20 Europe and make a statement about crypto and crime.

Former U.S. Federal Prosecutor, Mary Beth Buchanan, speaking during a panel discussion at conference held in Amsterdam, suggested, “we need to get rid of the negative connotations” that currently surround the emerging crypto industry. There will be many blockchain evangelists who will be happy to hear somebody from ‘the law’ speaking up about this, because many are tired of hearing voices in the mainstream media constantly repeating stories about the connection between crypto and crime.

Prosecutor says more fiat money is used in crime

Buchanan told the audience that it was a fact that many more crimes have been committed using fiat currencies; a fact that seems to get lost in MSM reporting. The former prosecutor told Cointelegraph: “I served 21 years at the [US] Justice Department and it’s not fair to say there is a greater amount of crime with cryptocurrencies. In fact I would strongly disagree with that… [what’s more], cryptocurrencies can be traced, unlike fiat currencies [cash].”

Tools to track crypto activities

This may seem a somewhat counterintuitive statement, given that anonymity is one of the key features of cryptocurrencies, but Buchanan told Cointelegraph, “there are now many commercially available tools that law enforcement can leverage to trace how currency has moved on a blockchain.” Two of those tools that she is talking about are Elliptic and Chainalysis. Both firms prevent, detect and investigate cryptocurrency money laundering, fraud and compliance violations. As Elliptic says: “We are the people who find truth in data.”

Given that these tools exist, it seems that law enforcement agencies need to catch up with what is available to them and understand the digital environment better as well. Buchanan certainly seems to believe this. She said: “regulators will need to “update” their practices in order to “keep pace,” as the outdated legislation introduced in the early 20th century for traditional securities is proving itself an awkward fit for 21st century innovations.”

As a matter of interest, Buchanan is now General Counsel for Kraken, one of the leading crypto exchanges, and she strongly advocates for digital currencies, describing, “cryptocurrencies as a “wonderful tool” that provides a “cost-effective” means for the transfer of value globally.”

Lay the myth to rest

Perhaps we can start to lay the myth of crypto and crime to rest now. Yes, crypto has been used for criminal activities that are estimated to have a value of about $72 billion globally. But wait, how much fiat money was used in crime? According to a Cointelegraph report, in the same year that BTC valued at $72 billion was used in crime worldwide, $100 billion in fiat was used in the U.S. alone for the purchase of drugs.

Claiming that crypto is bad because it’s primarily used for criminal activities will soon become an outdated myth if the truth is told often enough.


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