The Australian Federal Police has established a new cryptocurrency unit to combat money laundering in response to an increase in crimes involving cryptocurrencies, according to a story published on September 5 by the Australian Financial Review.
According to Stefan Jerga, criminal asset confiscation chief for the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the new crypto-focused squad was established in August as illegal cryptocurrency use had considerably increased during 2018. He claimed the group is
“… targeting assets, but it’s also providing that valuable, investigative tracing capability and lens for all of our commands across all of our businesses, whether they’re national security-related, child protection, cyber – or the ability to trace cryptocurrency transactions across the relevant blockchains is really, really important.”
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), a government financial intelligence organization, issued a warning about the increasing profitability of cryptocurrencies for criminals in April. According to the deputy chief executive of AUSTRAC, crypto assets are appealing to groups like Neo-Nazis due to their anonymity and ease of cross-border transactions.
Australians reportedly lost almost $26 million in 2021 as a result of cryptocurrency-related frauds. Australians lost AU$205 million between January and May 1, 2022, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, however, the actual amount is probably significantly higher. However, the reported sum revealed a 166% rise in crypto scam losses from the same time last year.
After the AFP achieved its goal of seizing $600 million in illegal proceeds two years early, the crypto section was established. According to Jerga, the new unit was also created with the intention of targeting criminals’ riches, which has in the past led to “better than expected” results.
Although cryptocurrencies made only a minor portion of criminal assets, which are primarily made up of property and cash, the decision to establish the specialized unit was sparked by the need for more information and insights, according to Jerga.