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Senator Hassan Continues to Push for Crackdown on Illicit Cryptocurrency

Last Year, Cybercriminals Stole $2.3 Million From Town of Peterborough

WASHINGTON – Today at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Maggie Hassan continued her push for a crackdown on the growing illicit use of cryptocurrency.

To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.

“Cryptocurrency can be used for illicit purposes, including in cyber attacks, such as when most of the $2.3 million stolen from the Town of Peterborough, New Hampshire, was quickly converted to cryptocurrency to make it unrecoverable,” said Senator Hassan. 

Senator Hassan then highlighted her letters to several agencies, including the Department of Justice, the IRS, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), asking what actions the federal government can take to help reduce the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. 

“In the IRS’s response to my letter, the agency made several suggestions, including increasing know-your-customer requirements and strengthening Suspicious Activity Reporting compliance for businesses connected to cryptocurrency markets,” Senator Hassan continued.

When asked about these two requirements, Megan Stifel, Chief Strategy Officer at the Institute for Security and Technology, responded that they are “essential to, as we’ve talked about, following the money and facilitating not only industry but also the government, in getting an adequate picture of what is happening with these payments, the affiliates, and the actors who are continuing to launch these types of incidents.” 

Senator Hassan then spoke about how sanctions can prevent criminals from receiving or laundering ransomware. Stifel added that not having a full picture of the scale and scope of this type of cybercrime inhibits the government from having sufficient evidence to designate a specific entity as ransomware. 

Senator Hassan also discussed how some ransomware victims do not want law enforcement to try to recover their ransomware payment because they are worried that the criminals will not honor commitments made in return for the ransom payment. In response, Bill Siegel, Chief Executive Officer at Coveware, added that law enforcement struggles to re-approach victims for evidence to secure indictments.