The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) is taking significant steps to combat the rise in crypto-related crimes by expanding its digital assets investigation team. The NCA is hiring four senior investigators for its Complex Financial Crime Team (CFCT) to focus on high-end crypto fraud, money laundering, and other blockchain-enabled crimes carried out by organized crime groups.
The investigators will work closely with a surveillance team and London police, collaborating with other investigators, intelligence, and analysis team members to develop complex cases using data and evidence from various sources. The position requires a current or active Professionalising Investigation Programme Level 2 accreditation or any equivalent government-issued qualification on investigative crime. The salary for these roles ranges from £34,672 to £38,314 ($44,145 to $48,782.92), along with other civil service benefits.
The NCA’s move to expand its crypto team aligns with the alarming increase in value lost to crypto fraud in the UK in 2022. According to the UK’s reporting system for cybercrime and fraud, crypto scammers stole at least $287 million last year. The NCA’s digital assets team was launched on January 4, signaling an increased focus on crypto assets. On July 26, the NCA also posted that it sought financial investigation managers to oversee crypto and digital assets crime investigations from a Proceeds of Crime Act perspective.
Additionally, the NCA has opened one position of Digital Assets Disclosure Officer in multiple locations, with the closing date for applications being August 21, 2023. The CFCT’s surveillance team dealing with illicit finance investigations has reportedly operated a task force with the police. The agency has also opened two positions for a Digital Assets Cryptocurrency Financial Investigations Manager and one post for a Digital Assets Senior Investigator, each role specifically focused on complex investigations involving cryptocurrency and digital assets.
Stricter crypto regulation on the horizon
The UK’s efforts to strengthen its crypto investigation team come at a time when the country is growing stricter in regulating cryptocurrency. This follows the neighboring European Union’s MiCA implementation for clearer crypto rules in 2024. Recent court sentences against crypto fraudsters and public demands for regulation highlight the urgency to fill top investigator roles.
In a recent report, the House of Commons Committee in the UK likened trading and investment in unbacked crypto assets to gambling, though H.M. Treasury disagreed with the proposal. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been vocal about his intention for the UK to become a global crypto hub. A recent survey revealed that 91% of UK respondents know about crypto, and a report from 2021 found that the country led the global growth in the sector, with 450% growth, outpacing countries like the US and Japan.
In conclusion, the UK’s National Crime Agency’s move to expand its crypto investigation team reflects the nation’s commitment to combating crypto-related crimes and tightening regulations. The hiring of senior investigators and the creation of specialized roles demonstrate a proactive approach to addressing the challenges posed by the rapidly growing crypto industry. The developments also signal a broader shift towards stricter crypto regulation in the UK, aligning with global trends and public demands for greater oversight and control.