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Australian Crypto Fraud: Federal Police Tap Forensic Unit to Curb Crims

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Australian crypto fraud just got a little harder. Federal Police have launched a new unit to tackle money laundering using cryptocurrencies.

Stefan Jerga is the national lead of criminal confiscation at the Australian Federal Police (AFP). He says the AFP formed the new task force to deal with the surge in illegal crypto use since the AFP’s first asset seizure in 2018. The unit has already surpassed its 2024 goal of stopping $600 million in illicit proceeds.

In addition to seizing assets, the new, dedicated team is providing invaluable tracing services to other divisions of the AFP. This is by being able to scrutinize transactions across multiple blockchains.

The idea for the new unit was sparked by an executive from AUSTRAC. They noted in April 2022 that crypto’s ability to travel across international borders seamlessly made them attractive for criminal activity. He added that as cryptos become more entrenched in the financial system, the more criminals try to exploit them.

Australian crypto fraud escalation

Since the AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw formed the unit in Feb. 2020, it has seized $35 million in cars, crypto, and other luxury goods.

Jerga felt that the escalation of crypto-related criminal activity since the AFP’s first seizure in 2018 warranted a new team of specialists rather than police officers trying to acquire additional skills. As Be[In]Crypto reported earlier this year, the AFP said cryptocurrency scams had “exploded” during the Covid-19 pandemic. This further necessitated more direct law enforcement activity.

According to Jerga, the new unit’s responsibility, in addition to stopping crime, is to upset the organization of criminal syndicates through forensic intelligence. The team will also attempt to curb fraud at its genesis rather than look to recover lost proceeds.

Ian McCartney, the AFP deputy commissioner of investigations, said criminals hate agile police teams that are able to reach deep into cyberspace
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