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Winnipeg police get funding to boost blockchain-related cybercrimes investigation unit

The Manitoba provincial government is providing new funding to the police department in its capital city, the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS), to upskill the force in fighting digital assets-related cybercrimes. 

Manitoba’s Minister for Justice Kelvin Goertzen announced in a press release that CAD100,000 (almost U.S.$78,000) has been approved for the WPS from the Manitoba Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund. 

The funding will enable the department to train five additional members of its cybercrimes team. The officers are to participate in the “Cryptocurrency Tracing Certified Examiner” training program. 

Part of the approved amount will also go to the purchase of specialized softwares such as CipherTrace and Blockchain Forensics to help the police force trace illegal financial activities in the digital assets space

The release highlighted that the funding is coming on the back of an exponential increase in the rate of “cyber-enabled crimes.” According to the government, reported cybercrimes in the province have gone up more than 370% in the last four years. 

In a statement, Sargent Trevor Thompson of the Winnipeg police financial crime unit said this increase could be tied to the growing popularity of digital assets in Canada.

“As cryptocurrencies have risen in popularity and become more widely available, criminal actors have now migrated into this space and are primarily using cryptocurrencies as the medium to obtain funds from their victims. In order to combat the rise in the use of cryptocurrencies in criminal enterprises, police must adapt,” he said. 

The province is in the middle of investigations into multiple reports of online fraud. The “Grandparent Scam,” as the police are calling the cases, is believed to be committed by an organized group who have allegedly swindled more than $100,000 from more than a dozen elderly citizens of Manitoba.

Canada still vying for clearer digital assets regulations 

The province of Manitoba has long been on the case of digital assets criminals. Back in 2020, the Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) issued a consumer warning against two digital assets firms that were targeting residents of the province after its investigation revealed inconsistencies that indicated the firms were scams. 

Meanwhile, Manitoba has not been the only Canadian province seeing an increase in digital asset scams. Earlier this year, the consumer group Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned that digital assets scams were becoming endemic in the country. 

According to our previous report, the Bank of Canada has said that the digital assets industry poses a relatively small risk to the country, but still needs regulations to keep pace with its growth.

Watch: The BSV Global Blockchain Convention panel, Cybersecurity: A Safer World with Blockchain

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