This course is intended to be a best practice reference for Law Enforcement, Military, Intelligence, and Private Sector Investigators responsible for investigating financial types of crimes. No set of guidelines can replace the need for active and ongoing consultation with colleagues, prosecutors, and subject matter experts. Investigations often require careful legal and technical analysis of complicated issues, culminating in difficult decisions that may affect victims, witnesses, and other organizations or entities. A process needs to be followed in any investigation to ensure that the investigation is fair, impartial, conducted thoroughly and efficiently, and presented to the prosecuting authority in a concise and complete package. Most investigations begin with the instigation of an alleged offense, followed by investigation, collecting evidence, suspect management, issuing charges, and culminates in a court proceeding to determine guilt or innocence (Figure 15-1).
Figure 15-1: Investigative Process
In this course, we have attempted to provide a theoretical understanding and teach some practical techniques for carrying out an investigation involving cryptocurrencies. Hopefully, it has prepared you and given you the necessary tools to research and develop techniques for any new cryptocurrency that may need your attention. There are no laws currently that specifically address cryptocurrencies; however, many different types of crimes may involve cryptocurrency. The use of cryptocurrency could easily find its way into almost any category of crime.
In the United States, a man killed his wife and disposed of her body by putting it through a tree chipper aimed towards a lake. He hoped that the bits of the woman’s body would be consumed by the fish in the lake, and without the “corpus delicti,” he would go undetected and be cleared of the crime. Ultimately, he was convicted partially based on a Google search he made on “tree chippers” and “how to dispose of a body,” and partially on the evidence that law enforcement officials obtained when they were then able to track down where the man rented the tree chipper, and subsequently finding the woman’s DNA inside the chipper.
The fact is that cryptocurrencies are here to stay, and it is only a matter of time before an app of some sort will appear that allows untraceable, cheap micropayments to be made through the blockchain. As a result, people will be able to transact small amounts of money daily, both online and in the real world. This will also facilitate the use of cryptocurrencies entering into nearly every type of crime. Investigators need to be ready with the skills and capability to identify, investigate and prepare these cases for prosecution. To be proficient in performing cryptocurrency investigations, you will need to stay on top of your game, continually researching and trying to discover new and creative ways to investigate crimes involving cryptocurrencies.