The criminal blockchain company CipherTrace has published a detailed guide to help police identify signs of cryptocurrency use in criminal investigations.
The report notes that the US Treasury has found a “steady decline in massive seizures reported by agencies across the US” since 2013, indicating that the trend may indicate a wider adoption of cryptocurrencies among criminals.
“However, investigators who don’t know what to look for may easily ignore signs of cryptocurrency use.”
The report calls for law enforcement agencies to scan confiscated phones and computers for apps related to cryptocurrencies, bookmarks, and authentication apps, and lists popular cryptocurrency exchanges, wallet providers, and cryptocurrency ATM cards.
CipherTrace asserts that “old, broken, and apparently not functioning computers can contain the private keys for cryptocurrency wallets”.
Investigators are also advised to examine so-called “pocket junk” and “other random documents” of Bitcoin ATM receipts and initial wallet redemptions, and provide examples of how recovery seeds are typically stored on paper.
Example of a wallet recovery statement: CipherTrace
The post added that “the seeds of recovery can also be hidden in books, planners and intrusive notes, or in plain sight as clear lists or metal backups.”
The report also provides a complete list of hardware wallet manufacturers and models, along with examples of what looks like the most popular devices.
“Investigators can easily overlook the signs of cryptocurrency use; hardware wallets can look like attractive USB drives, and the raw data to recover are just random words on the page.”
CipherTrace urges police to be extra vigilant when looking for evidence of a cryptographic buffer “when there are no cash withdrawals for known transactions that require large amounts of money.”