CHAPTER 14Seizing Coins

In this chapter, we will consider when and how to seize cryptocurrency assets. Police forces, government agencies, and private investigation firms are currently debating the correct procedures for seizure either at a live crime scene or later during an investigation. The processes in this chapter represent my recommendations but should not be interpreted as the only way to proceed in what is fundamentally a legal rather than a technical decision.

This entire book has been aimed at a technical investigator, but cryptocurrencies are changing the landscape of a financial investigation. Traditionally, Financial investigators (FI's) are long-time police officers with financial training, or forensic accountants with an eye for the unusual in bank and company account records. To trace the movement of money, investigators work with anti-fraud departments in banks and other financial institutions. They identify, track, and seize proceeds of crime and assets owned by criminals, follow the financial breadcrumbs through complex money-laundering schemes, and monitor the purchase of illegal material.

Financial investigators are a necessary breed of detective, but they are not usually technical. Of course, they will likely be adept with a spreadsheet and understand accounting software, but they are not digital forensics professionals. I was asked by an FI a few months ago how he would produce a seized bitcoin in court. I wasn't sure how to answer, so I spent some time ...

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