The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Criminal Investigation (CI) is mounting an effort to fight against cybercrime by deploying cyber attachés worldwide. The initiative aims to combat tax and financial crimes involving crypto, decentralized finance, peer-to-peer payments, and mixing services. This move, as disclosed by the IRS, is a proactive step in strengthening international cooperation in fighting these illicit activities.
The CI is planning to launch a pilot program in June and station cyber attachés in strategic locations across four continents, which include Sydney, Singapore, Bogota, and Frankfurt, covering the regions of Australia, Asia, South America, and Europe, respectively. The attachés will collaborate with local law enforcement agencies to tackle tax evasion, financial fraud, and other criminal activities facilitated by digital currencies.
By deploying cyber attachés in different countries, the IRS aims to facilitate a seamless exchange of expertise, intelligence, and tools with foreign law enforcement agencies. This proactive approach is in recognition that combating cybercrime requires a unified global front.
The IRS CI’s chief, Jim Lee, emphasized the importance of empowering foreign partners with the same level of proficiency and resources available within the United States, stating, “In order to effectively combat cybercrime, we need to ensure that our foreign counterparts have access to the same tools and expertise we have here in the United States.”
The CI has established a permanent cyber attaché at Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, to foster cooperation and coordination with European law enforcement agencies since 2020. With the expansion of the attaché program, the CI can extend its reach and amplify its impact in regions known to be hotspots for cybercriminal activities.
The world is becoming increasingly digitized, and cybercriminals are leveraging cryptocurrencies for various illicit activities. The IRS, by prioritizing tax and financial crimes involving cryptocurrencies, demonstrates its determination to combat these emerging cyberthreats head-on. The CI aims to protect individuals, businesses, and the integrity of the global financial system by targeting criminal schemes such as tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, public corruption, and healthcare fraud.
In recent developments, U.S. authorities have intensified their crackdown on cybercriminals exploiting cryptocurrencies or decentralized finance (DeFi) to perpetrate their crimes. The IRS seized two domains linked to the notorious mixing service, ChipMixer, known for its involvement in ransomware attacks, fraud, cryptocurrency heists, and other hacking schemes. Such actions send a strong message that law enforcement agencies are actively pursuing those who abuse digital currencies for their nefarious purposes.
Regardless of the continuous cybercrimes happening in the industry, the crypto market has maintained composure, with a value sitting firmly above $1 trillion.