One of the primary draws of cryptocurrency is that is supposedly shielded from government intervention and oversight. However, this myth is beginning to come unraveled. In fact, one of the benefits of blockchain technology is its transparency.
In a recent post, we discussed the announce of the launch of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), a federal initiative to investigate and prosecute crimes involving cryptocurrency. And even before this national effort gains full steam, we are already seeing signs of law enforcement using cryptocurrency surveillance to obtain evidence of criminal activity.
A recent guilty plea for murder
The Miami Herald online issued a story about a man who had allegedly used cryptocurrency to hire someone to kill his wife. According to the article, “after investigators said he paid a hit man $17,853 in Bitcoin to kill his wife on her way to a veterinarian appointment with the family pet and make it look like a road-rage incident or carjacking gone wrong.”
The accused man probably presumed that the Bitcoin transaction would not be discoverable as a more traditional form of exchange might be. However, a unanimous source tipped off the transfer to the BBC, who then handed the information to the FBI, leading to the arrest and charges of murder-for-hire.
Your transactions are not hidden with cryptocurrency
It is critical to note that using Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency will not shield the transactions from visibility. If you send or receive money for any illegal activity, these transactions can be traced and potentially lead the authorities back to you as participating in the criminal activity. Fraud, drug dealing or purchases on the dark web (also referred as the deep web), money laundering and other white-collar crimes are also subject to government visibility. If you try to use cryptocurrency to avoid paying taxes, the authorities are likely to uncover that, as well; even if you engage in a private sale in exchange for cash; those prosecutions are on the rise.
If you have been arrested or have reason to believe you are under investigation involving cryptocurrency, get legal help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.