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UK ramps up its ‘crypto’ crime division

The United Kingdom’s lead cybercrime agency is hiring digital asset investigators as it ramps up its digital asset crime division.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is raising the headcount in its Complex Financial Crime Team to focus on “high-end proactive illicit finance investigations.” The NCA added that these roles would sit within the Digital Assets Team and probe complex blockchain-enabled crime.

The agency announced the new department in January to crack down on the rising digital asset crime in the United Kingdom. According to data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), digital currencies accounted for the highest number of complaints in 2022.

In the 12 months to March 2023, digital asset crime shot up 41% to £306 million ($389 million), data from Action Fraud further shows. Lax company registration requirements in the U.K., which allow easy money laundering, have also contributed to the rise in digital asset crimes in the country.

The new investigators will collaborate with intelligence officials, the police, and other local and global law enforcement agencies to crack down on crimes involving digital currencies.

“This includes the disruption of criminal activity within virtual arenas, high end of high harm cryptocurrency and virtual assets fraud and money laundering offences carried out by significant organised crime groups and state actors,” says the NCA.

Interested individuals have until August 21 to submit their applications, with the successful applicants set to receive £34,672 ($44,000). Roles based in London will get an additional $4,570.

The U.K. continues to make big leaps in cracking down on digital asset crimes. Last month, the House of Lords passed the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which gives authorities greater reach in pursuit of illicit financial gains. It includes the power to seize, freeze and recover digital assets.

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