The Biggest Bitcoin Challenges and How Law Enforcement Can Address Them

December 20, 2021

An introductory guide to criminal bitcoin activity analysis

Let’s begin with the most basic component – what is Bitcoin? Launched in 2009, Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency online. Other cryptocurrencies have joined the market since then, but none has toppled Bitcoin’s reign. A cryptocurrency is an electronic payment system that uses cryptography – think, codes – to track transactions.

Bitcoin is all online. It’s peer to peer – there is no need for a bank or another third-party financial institution to carry out the transaction, meaning no intermediary fees and no scrutiny. Bitcoin doesn’t belong to any country or organization and doesn’t answer to any regulatory body.

How much is Bitcoin worth?

It changes with supply and demand. It can be exchanged i.e., purchased with, or cashed out into US Dollars, Euros, and other flat or cryptocurrencies. In real life, unless a country is experiencing an economic, political or social crisis, the value of its currency tends to be stable. With Bitcoin, however, extreme fluctuations have happened often, with large sales or purchases shifting its value by as much as 30%, up or down.

Where can you buy Bitcoin?

You can buy Bitcoin online at the following platforms: Coinbase, Kraken, and GDAX. You can also buy it at the many physical Bitcoin stores around the world.

Can you shop online with Bitcoin?

Yes. Many merchants accept Bitcoin and one can buy anything from airplane tickets to property, lottery tickets, computers, gift cards, and firearms – the last one raising eyebrows.

Bitcoin and law enforcement

Due to its discreet peer-to-peer nature, Bitcoin is an attractive way to pay, not just for ordinary citizens but also for criminals. In fact, Bitcoin has been used in more than a few underworld sectors – from human trafficking to drug deals.

Thus, law enforcement solutions must identify the cases where Bitcoin is used for criminal purposes. As Bitcoin is stored in wallets – computer wallets, mobile wallets, online wallets, or disk-on keys – law enforcement must have “its own Bitcoin wallets” in order to be able to “seize” black-Bitcoin. As Bitcoin can change hands instantly, law enforcement must act in a swift manner, swifter than the criminals, once it identifies an illicit transaction.

The easy way to expedite your investigations

In today’s data inundated world, law enforcement agencies must use an automated, AI-powered blockchain analysis tool that scans the web – and the dark web – continuously. As Bitcoin is a type of blockchain, a good blockchain forensics tool such as Cobwebs will propel criminal investigations forward with mission-critical information and help seize Bitcoin in a timely manner.

Cobwebs solution constantly looks for and categorizes the technical details and other digital footprints left behind by blockchain transactions, with which it identifies key information about suspicious persons. It scans the deep and dark web where most such transactions occur.

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