South Korean authorities create Task Force to prevent cryptocurrency crimes

Authorities in South Korea announced the introduction of a “Task Force” that will specifically work to counter the growing number of cryptocurrency-related crimes in the country.

Crypto-specific crimes have shot up significantly in South Korea. Prosecutors in Seoul have responded by creating this Task Force to protect the fin-tech, cryptocurrency industry and individual customers who are often caught in virtual currency and initial coin offering [ICO] related frauds. Professional investigators and public prosecutors will work in tandem with the force.

Cryptocurrency crimes are often of high-value, and since 2019 is seeing a lot of institutional investor interest, the Force expects the number of crypto-crimes to climb.

The number of cryptocurrency crimes in South Korea has risen substantially since 2016 when only 53 cases were reported. The following year saw an increase to 453, as the crypto-boom took hold of the markets. As the bears set in and ICO crimes increased, the number of cases increased by a whopping 913 percent to reach 4,591 cases for 2018.

A local South Korean news daily, News1 recorded a Prosecutor stating,

“We will disseminate the TF functions and roles through inspection meetings and video surveillance conferences with the heads of relevant departments in the future, and actively respond to crimes that cause widespread damage to ordinary people by examining the situation of investigations.”

The Task Force will be given substantial authority within the police department. The Force will be allowed to track and freeze relevant accounts if evidence of their involvement in crypto-related crimes is presented.

Furthermore, the information procured through this Task Force will be shared with local government authorities, and could even be used to enforce regulation within the industry in due course.

South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have been delving into self-regulation, to prevent any cases related to money laundering. Back in January, Bithumb, Upbit, Korbit and Coinone created a correspondence where users shared information suspected to be tied to crypto-related crimes or Ponzi-schemes.

Out of the aforementioned exchanges, Bithumb, Korbit, and Coinone were given a green light following a government security audit. Additionally, seven other exchanges were also cleared by the Korean authorities, after a risk assessment program to protect the cryptocurrency investors.

Another major crime within South Korea is the increasing number of ‘cryptojacking’ cases. In cases like these, hackers covertly use a computer’s processing power to mine for cryptocurrencies, without the user knowing. Since mining is an energy-intensive task, this results in high costs, if done on a large scale.

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