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DOJ forms “National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team”

Technology for Lawyers

Published: November 4, 2022

The U.S. Department of Justice has formed a task force specifically dedicated to prosecuting crimes connected to cryptocurrency. With an initial staff of over 150 prosecutors, the official name of this group is the “National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team.”
But let me be the first to gloss them the “DOJ Crypto Cowboys.”
The creation of the Crypto Cowboy team followed closely on the heels of the DOJ’s establishment of a “Digital Asset Coordinators Network (DACN),” designed to root out and prosecute crimes that involve digital assets, like money laundering and terrorism funding.
The Crypto Cowboys will be headed up by veteran crypto prosecutor Eun Young Choi. Eun Young, an undergrad and law school graduate of Harvard, began her prosecutorial career at the DOJ in the Southern District of New York, where she was that office’s cyber crimes coordinator. Among other accomplishments while in that office, she argued the appeal against the founder of Silk Road. And now she heads up the whole shebang.
Her team includes DOJ officials with experience in the department’s tax, criminal, civil, national security and environmental divisions.
The new team’s emphasis on cryptocurrency will concentrate on crypto scammers and on educating other branches of the government on cryptocurrency.
I suppose that, for the moment at least, they are leaving open the general question of whether all of cryptocurrency is a scam by definition. Certainly my crypto wallet thinks that right now, but whatever.
The DACN, formed at the beginning of this year, had an immediate impact on law enforcement.
In April, a dark web hacker was busted and the DOJ confiscated $34 worth of digital assets from him. These assets included Ethereum, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (which are now worth about 25% of what they were worth then, but, again, whatever).
In May the group busted Luiz Capuci Jr. and accused him of running a $62 million crypto pyramid scheme called Mining Capital Coin. He’s looking at a max of 45 years in prison.
Following the announcement of the Crypto Cowboy office, the DOJ also published a report outlining potential legislative and regulatory measures that it believes can help with cryptocurrency law enforcement.
As always, we shall see about all that.