From law enforcement and investigative perspective, when you identify an individual is using cryptocurrency, it’s important first to note that not all individuals are criminals that use it. However, if you came across a drug dealer, member of a cartel, gang member, sex trafficker, or child pornographer, you might draw inferences that they are involved in illegal activity using crypto (Lee, J. 2019).

Gaining Access to Receipts. Documenting cryptocurrency receipts will become essential to your investigation and case as it escalates to charges being filed, especially for money laundering. So if you are finding ATM receipts for Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin, you need to keep them and document them as evidence. One of the most crucial things for your investigation is matching the transactions within the blockchain. You should also try and identify the ATM owner and work with them as a source of your investigation.

Mining Hardware & Equipment. When dealing with cryptocurrency mining equipment, they are all very similar—they look like what you see below.


In the U.S., sole cryptocurrency miners and users are not regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the primary federal regulator. However, if the miner or users act on behalf of another or are cryptocurrency dealers, then FinCEN regulations apply. New York State, Connecticut, and, just recently, North Carolina have laws restricting the use of cryptocurrency. As always, consult your prosecutor for details before taking action.

Identification of Digital wallets. There are a ton of different kinds of digital wallets out there. Everything from online wallets, software wallets to mobile wallets. The most important thing to remember is that after you serve a search warrant on a computer or mobile device, document the use of digital wallets. You will want to documents any apps and review web history. If you can identify the wallet as a U.S company, you can utilize a search warrant. This is something that needs to be done very quickly as funds can be transferred instantaneously.


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