Amid growing concerns surrounding ransomware attacks in the U.S., Senator Gary Peters has announced a bipartisan investigation of how cryptocurrencies could be facilitating such activity, reports.

Fast facts

  • In a statement, Sen. Peters, who is also the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said: “The increased use of cryptocurrencies as the preferred method of payment in ransomware attacks shows that cybercriminals believe they can commit attacks without being held accountable.”
  • Cybercrime has been a focus this past week as President Joe Biden publicly accused China of carrying out malicious ransomware attacks on U.S. companies earlier in the year. Debate has continued as to whether the U.S. should impose sanctions on Beijing in retaliation for the attacks. So far, however, none have been imposed.
  • The announcement comes as Brazilian police seized (172 million real) US$33 million following an anti-money laundering probe last week in which many domestic exchanges processed the transactions in breach of AML requirements. Local police said all the exchanges were fully aware of their actions.
  • Earlier this month, officials in Hong Kong arrested four men in one of the city’s first virtual currency money laundering cases in a scheme that might involve up to HK$1.2 billion (US$155 million). Hong Kong police said the men had opened four accounts across multiple Hong Kong banks and had made transactions through virtual exchanges they should have “reasonably believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offense.”
  • Similarly in the UK, police recently seized £294 million (US$408 million) in cryptocurrency in less than a month in ongoing investigations of crypto’s use in money laundering.
  • Forkast.News previously reported that 2020 saw the amount of crypto paid in ransomware attacks increase by 337% over 2019, totaling US$406.34 million for the year. This year had already seen a reported US$81.6 million paid to ransomware attacks as of earlier this month.