Coinbase sold software to US authorities to track crypto transactions

by IANS |

San Francisco, July 1 (IANS) Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has provided sophisticated tools to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to help it track transactions across Bitcoin, Ether and other cryptocurrencies.

According to a report in Intercept, Coinbase sold an analytics software license to ICE for $29,000 in August last year, followed by a software purchase potentially worth $1.36 million the next month.

"ICE now has access to a variety of forensic features provided through Coinbase Tracer, the company's intelligence-gathering tool (formerly known as Coinbase Analytics)," the report said on Thursday.

Coinbase Tracer allows clients, in both government and the private sector, to trace transactions through Blockchain.

A company spokesperson said that "Coinbase Tracer sources its information from public sources and does not make use of Coinbase user data."

The software is offered on an "as a service" cloud subscription basis.

ICE is a division of the US Department of Homeland Security and also looks into "broader transnational crimes as well, including various forms of financial offenses".

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is forming a new specialised team dedicated to tackling growing cryptocurrency crimes.

Fraudsters are leveraging increased fear and uncertainty during the pandemic to steal money and launder it through the complex cryptocurrency ecosystem.

"People of all ages, including the elderly, are being victimised by criminals through cryptocurrency-related fraud schemes. Developments in cryptocurrency technology and an increasing number of businesses accepting it as payment have driven the growing popularity and accessibility of cryptocurrency," the FBI said recently.

The FBI in April blamed North Korean hacker group Lazarus for stealing $625 million in cryptocurrency from the Ronin Network, owned by developer group Sky Mavis.

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