The UK Police have seized cryptocurrency worth £ 320 million in multiple cases in a span of five years. 12 of Britain’s 48 police forces confiscated the crypto assets, but it could be more as 15 forces are yet to give their input. The UK’s National Crime Agency is also to reveal how much digital money it has seized.
Experts say criminals prefer to use crypto because it is protected by strong encryption. It cannot be “broken into” without a key. And it has come to the fore that existing legislation in UK, makes it difficult for law enforcement to seize cryptocurrency. This shows the significance and increasing use of digital assets in criminal activities.
Reports say the majority of the seized cryptocurrencies, that is 99%, were bitcoin. There were also small amounts of Monero, Ethereum, Zcash, and Dash.
Jake Moore, global cybersecurity advisor at ESET and former head of digital forensics at Dorset Police, highlighted that the police forces have made enormous progress in digital investigations. But the last step of confiscation is too difficult to examine in many situations. The design of cryptocurrencies makes it secure from interception. Plus, the digital coins do not have a back door.
This naturally makes it difficult for law enforcement to go through the original procedures, unlike traditional finances. There have also been cases where criminals have been locked away but the law enforcement authorities have failed to access the funds.
Experts believe criminals use lesser-known cryptocurrencies than the popular bitcoin. The main reason is that BTC’s public ledger stores all token transactions in its history and this is visible to everyone. Criminals, such as hackers use zcash, monero or dash because of the additional anonymity built into them. Monero has emerged as the topmost choice for ransomware criminals.
Rick Holland, a chief information security officer at Digital Shadows, said tech-savvy criminals always bet on monero for their dirty work. It operates on its own blockchain. All transaction details are virtually hidden, plus the process of transaction is disguised from the sender to the recipient, to the transaction amount.