Yesterday’s exciting news from then U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the seizure of over 50,676 bitcoin hidden in the home of Silk Road defendant James Zhong was certainly worthy of praise and celebration, especially given the tremendous effort by the DOJ together with Criminal Investigation’s Western Cyber Crimes Unit of the Los Angeles Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in Athens, Georgia.
All of over LinkedIn, Twitter and in the headlines, crypto-enthusiasts celebrated their wares, boasting how crypto has evolved into a boon for law enforcement and not a hindrance. But they are all dead wrong.
Yes, DOJ, IRS and the rest deserve praise and applause for their efforts — which were exceptional and worthy of congratulations. But Zhong’s bitcoin seizure was a unique situation and far from the norm. Crypto remains a horrendous plague that has ushered in a high-tech crime wave of epic proportions and presents extraordinary challenges for law enforcement to trace and to recover.
At least for now, the stark reality is that most criminals who use crypto to facilitate their crimes will likely never get caught and their ill-gotten crypto will likely never be recovered. That is axiomatic — and to state otherwise is not just irresponsible, it’s just plain false.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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