Australia’s fight against crypto scams has reached a new level

Photo - Australia’s fight against crypto scams has reached a new level
Australian authorities have taken drastic measures to combat financial crime. The Australian Federal Police created a separate department specializing in illegal cryptocurrency transactions.
Recently in Australia, cybercriminals have been increasingly using cryptocurrencies. This is evidenced by data from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC). In particular, the number of reported cyber ransomware attacks for 2020-2021 increased by 15%.
Financial service providers need to be alert to the signs of criminal use of digital currencies, including their use in ransomware attacks,
the Center’s CEO Nicole Rose said in the spring.
Her deputy, John Moss, emphasized that virtual currencies are becoming attractive assets for many cybercriminals, including a large number of neo-Nazi groups, due to their anonymity and ease of transfer.

In response to the growing threat to digital asset owners, the AFP, the state’s federal police force, has established a specialized cryptocurrency division. According to a local financial columnist, its primary purpose is to combat money laundering and offshoring using crypto. The new department employees will cooperate with a team that confiscates criminal assets.
It’s 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,
AFP commented.

Crypto fraud schemes in Australia have been on the rise since 2018

According to Stefan Yerga, national manager of the federal police’s Criminal Asset Forfeiture Unit, the number of cybercriminal use of cryptocurrency has increased significantly over the past four years. That was the impetus for creating a full-fledged department to combat money laundering and terrorism.

“We felt a standalone team [was required], rather than a lot of officers picking up some of this skill set as part of their overall role.”

The team, which specializes in criminal asset forfeiture, has been in operation since 2020. It had a task to confiscate $600 million in illicit transaction proceeds from criminals by the end of 2024. But experts completed the plan in 2022, seizing $615 million worth of real estate, bank accounts, cash, vehicles, art, antiques, and digital assets.