The National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) is accepting applications to a new cell dedicated to cryptocurrency related crimes. Candidates must possess expert knowledge in the industry and understand the functioning of various blockchain protocols to help investigators solve cases.
Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has launched a Crypto Cell aimed at cracking down on cryptocurrency related crimes. Initially five officers within the existing National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) will join the Crypto Cell.
As per a job posting made by the agency on the Civil Service Careers website, the role will require applicants to possess extensive knowledge about the crypto industry and ability to provide strategic and tactical advice to investigations. The candidate should have experience identifying and recovering 12-24 word wallet seed phrases. They must understand the various transaction routes for different centralised and decentralised finance (CeFi and DeFi) platforms and blockchain protocols, and should be able to conduct blockchain forensic investigations on serious and organised crimes.
“This is a really exciting opportunity which involves working in a team at the forefront of protecting the UK from cybercrime. Cryptocurrency and virtual assets are widely viewed as specialist areas of knowledge, and this role is key to supporting NCA investigations in which these are used to enable serious criminality,” said a spokesperson for the NCA.
The UK has been ramping up its efforts to stop cryptocurrencies from being used to fuel illicit activities like money-laundering and terrorist financing. The NCA has been involved in investigations related to crypto assets for quite some time. In its annual report, the National Crime Agency declared that it seized almost £27 million worth of crypto assets that were involved in illicit activities in the 2021-22 financial year. This number was zero in the 2020-21 period.
According to official figures from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrimes, cryptocurrencies worth £226 million were lost to fraudulent schemes between October 2021 and September 2022.
In September, the parliament introduced the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill with the goal of strengthening the country’s reputation as a place to conduct legitimate business while “driving dirty money out”. The new legislation will make it easier for law enforcement agencies like the NCA to seize, freeze and recover crypto assets, while giving them the power to compel virtual assets service providers (VASP) to handover information on suspicious transactions related to money laundering and terrorist financing.
2022 has been a tough year for the crypto industry, as many once influential projects came crashing down to the ground. In May, the Luna (LUNA) project collapsed after its sister token and algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD (UST) lost its peg to the U.S dollar, causing investors to lose an estimated £50 billion. Following exposure to Terra/Luna, crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC) and lenders Celsius Network, BlockFi, and Voyager Digital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the subsequent months. In November, crypto exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy after the platform mismanaged customer assets worth £8.35 billion. The company’s co-founder and former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, admitted to defrauding customers by promising them substantial returns on their deposits while using the funds for personal gains. The disgraced former billionaire was arrested by authorities last month and is currently facing trial in the United States.
According to a report by blockchain audit firm Certik, crypto markets have lost £3 billion to scams and £6.43 billion to hacks on various DeFi platforms among others in 2022, making it the biggest year for crypto related crimes.
In response, governments all over the world are developing legislation to better regulate the industry. The UK is expected to pass its Financial Services and Markets Bill (FSMB) in April, which will for the first time consider cryptocurrencies as investment products and bring them under the watch of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the country’s financial watchdog.
The NCA is accepting applications for its new role until January 10, 2023. Successful candidates can expect an annual salary of between £40,200 and £43,700, inflation adjusted.