How Governments Are Confiscating Millions of Stolen Cryptocurrency


After the probable cause and burden of proof requirements are met, law enforcement officers can obtain seizure orders for all illicit funds that eventually end up on compliant exchanges — and many funds eventually do. Law enforcement officers will then work with the crypto business to move the funds into a government-controlled wallet or freeze them.

“Another method is for the adversary or a member of their conspiracy to cooperate and provide private keys to the government as part of a plea negotiation or collaboration to help them in some way,” said Gurvais Grigg, who is deputy director of the FBI was before he became an executive at Chainalysis.

The third possibility is to compromise the target’s security, which can happen in several ways.

“If you’re talking about a country like North Korea or Russian cybercriminals, it can take years to build networks of confidential informants and collaborate with other governments, even those that aren’t always friendly to us,” he said. says Redbord. “One part might be hacking into a server or machine or, frankly more likely, just great policing.”

For hackers outside the United States, the task is more difficult. An arrest may be impossible if the suspect is in a country that doesn’t cooperate with Washington, so prosecutors are looking elsewhere.

“Good prosecutors understand that criminal charges are only part of the larger investigation and result in cases like this,” said Redbord, who served as prosecutor for 11 years. Instead, the focus is on the money.

The other aspects are regulation, politics and diplomacy. There are several notable “rogue areas” around the world that don’t comply with international anti-money laundering rules, Grigg says, including North Korea and Iran, “but those parts of the world are becoming smaller islands.” There are two reasons for this. If you’re a business, compliance means you have the opportunity to access the world’s richest markets; being a nation means that your own lawful orders can be honored in return.

What is next?

As governments get better at monitoring and confiscating cryptocurrency, hackers and criminal tactics continue to evolve.