Buried deep in a 61-page recent report by the U.S. Attorney General, the Biden Administration called for a dramatic expansion in the federal government’s ability to seize and keep cryptocurrency. If enacted, the proposed changes would bolster both criminal forfeiture, which requires a conviction to permanently confiscate property, as well as civil forfeiture, which doesn’t require a conviction or even criminal charges to be filed.
Notably, the report’s release was coupled with the announcement of a new Digital Asset Coordinator Network. This nationwide network is staffed with more than 150 federal prosecutors who will be trained on “drafting civil and criminal forfeiture actions.”
Due to crypto’s pseudonymous nature, it’s sometimes assumed to be immune from government confiscation. But the reality is quite different. Last year, the U.S. Marshals—the custodians for Justice Department seizures—managed almost 200 cryptocurrency seizures worth $466 million.
Since fiscal 2014, the FBI, Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations have collectively seized almost $680 million worth of crypto (valued at the time of seizure), with hundreds of still active investigations involving digital assets. But even those amounts pale in comparison to IRS Criminal Investigation, which has confiscated a staggering $3.8 billion in virtual currency between fiscal 2018 and 2021.
FBI Says It’s Seized $28.5 Million In Bitcoins From Ross Ulbricht, Alleged Owner Of Silk Road