Europe’s largest cryptocurrency law enforcement event took place this week, June 12th to 14th, at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, where pan-continental police force also announced it is developing a “serious game” to train investigators in the tracing of cryptocurrency transactions.
Over 300 cryptocurrency experts from both enforcement agencies and the private sector convened at Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) to reportedly forge, “…closer cooperation and new partnerships to prevent and detect cryptocurrency-facilitated crime and to assist asset recovery,” according to a press release from Europol regarding the event.
The focus of the conference was not exclusively on law enforcement, however.
In addition to presentations from police and investigators regarding cases of phishing, thefts of funds, DDoS extortion and Europol’s recent dismantling of Dark Net marketplace Wall Street Market and “crypto-tumbling service” Bestmixer (an online portal for obscuring crypto fund origins), participants also heard from, “Private sector experts specialising in the lawful use of cryptocurrencies.”
As well, representatives from crypto wallet, trading and payment companies Binance, BitBay, Bitcoin.de, Bitfinex, BitFlyer Europe, Bitnovo, Bitonic, Bitpanda, BitPay, Bitstamp, CEX, Coinbase, Coinfloor, Coinhouse, Coinpayments, CoinsPaid, Ledger, Litebit, LocalBitcoins, OKCoin, Shapeshift, SpectroCoin, Tether and Xapo, “demonstrated their best practices in implementing Know Your Customer (KYC) policies and mechanisms, and risk-based approaches to suspicious transactions.”
Conference participants also, “reflected on the legitimate use of blockchain technologies, including the use of cryptocurrencies for trading and investment activities, payment method and as a store of value.”
Europol’s forthcoming training game for teaching the tracking of crypto transactions is being developed by Europol in “close cooperation” with CENTRIC (Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research).
According to Europol, the “serious game…will be the first law enforcement training opportunity on cryptocurrency and investigation using gamification. It will allow law enforcement officers to get hands-on training and advice on tracing cryptocurrencies in criminal investigations.”
The abrupt shut down of Wall Street Market and Bestmixer by law enforcement in May likely led to the voluntary shut down of another bitcoin anonymising service, Bitcoin Blender, in early June.
That service reportedly shut down quickly after posting a short announcement on its Tor-hosted website ordering customers to withdraw their funds.
Some Bitcoin Blender customers have since complained that they did not get their funds out in time and have accused Bitcoin Blender of executing “an exit scam.”
As well, police in the Netherlands who worked jointly with Europol in the Bestmixer bust claimed a majority of the funds passing across Bestmixer were criminal in origin.
Dutch police also claimed they’d been collecting detailed information on Bestmixer clients since the advent of the service one year ago:
“The Dutch FIOD has gathered information on all the interactions on this platform in the past year. This includes IP-addresses, transaction details, bitcoin addresses and chat messages. This information will now be analysed by the FIOD in cooperation with Europol and intelligence packages will be shared with other countries.”