Business 8 March 2019

Erik Gibbs

South Korea creates task force to fight crypto fraud

South Korean authorities want to make sure that consumers are protected from fraud and other crimes, especially in the nascent cryptocurrency world. The country’s Supreme Prosecutors’ Office (SPO) has now established a task force to help that cause and which is designed to fight criminal activity related to digital currencies. 

According to an article by the Korean Broadcasting System this past Tuesday, the task force falls under the authority of the SPO and is responsible for investigating fraud, crime, illegal money laundering and other illicit activity in the FinTech and crypto spaces. The creation of the group comes as South Korea attempts to combat an increasing number of fraud and crime cases relating to digital currencies, which rose from 53 in 2016 to 453 cases in 2017. 

An SPO prosecutor told local media News1, “We will disseminate the [task force] functions and roles through inspection meetings and video surveillance conferences with the heads of relevant departments in the future, and actively respond to crimes that cause widespread damage to ordinary people by examining the situation of investigations.”

The group is expected to be given a significant amount of control within police departments. It has also been authorized to track and freeze banks accounts if it uncovers evidence that they could be used in criminal activity related to crypto

Things became even worse last year, as the number of cases received by the SPO skyrocketed by more than 4,500. This is similar to what has been seen in other countries—Japan, for example, saw a tenfold increase in crypto crimes from 2017 to 2018, with over 7,000 incidents reported.

An SPO spokesperson said of the introduction of the task force, “A large number of criminal suspects have been involved in a wide range of crimes and organized crime, so we need a dedicated organization to respond professionally and systematically. We expect to maximize the efficiency of investigation by launching the task force.”

The group will also be tasked with improving the current system that assigns punishments for criminals. It hopes to be able to confiscate and recover property fraudulently taken from victims and increase the damages paid to the victims.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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