UK Police Seize £322m of Cryptocurrency in Past Five Years
UK police have seized cryptocurrency worth £322m over the past five years, according to official figures obtained by the New Scientist publication following a freedom of information (FoI) request.
The funds were taken during multiple criminal investigations over this period, highlighting how cryptocurrencies are increasingly used in illegal activity. This is primarily due to the challenges law enforcement face in seizing digital currencies compared to cash. One of these is that cryptocurrencies are often protected by strong encryption, which is impenetrable without a key. It is also difficult for law enforcement to seize cryptocurrency under existing legislation in the UK, even if there is suspicion it has been gained from criminal activity.
The £322m worth of funds were seized by 12 of the UK’s 48 police forces, although the true figure could be much higher because 15 forces reportedly did not respond to the New Scientist’s request. In addition, the UK’s National Crime Agency, which is exempt from FoI legislation, has not revealed how much cryptocurrency it has seized.
Almost all (99%) of the seized cryptocurrencies were Bitcoin, although small amounts of Ethereum, Dash, Monero and Zcash were also confiscated.
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