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US DOJ ramps up crypto scrutiny: targets crypto exchanges, DeFi hackers US DOJ ramps up crypto scrutiny: targets crypto exchanges, DeFi hackers

US DOJ ramps up crypto scrutiny: targets crypto exchanges, DeFi hackers

The DOJ would crack down on crypto platforms like exchanges, mixers, and tumblers that enable malicious players to carry out their crimes.

US DOJ ramps up crypto scrutiny: targets crypto exchanges, DeFi hackers

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to increase its scrutiny of the crypto space, citing the growing crime rate in the industry over the past four years.

US DOJ targets crypto exchanges, others

In a May 15 Financial Times report, the director of the national cryptocurrency enforcement team Eun Young Choi said the DOJ would crack down on crypto platforms like exchanges, mixers, and tumblers that enable malicious players to carry out their crimes.

The regulatory chief noted that this would serve as a deterrent to other businesses that allow these bad actors to profit from their illegal activities.

Choi said:

“Theyโ€™re allowing for all the other criminal actors to easily profit from their crimes and cash out in ways that are obviously problematic to us. And so we hope that by focusing on those types of platforms, weโ€™re going to have a multiplier effect.”

Over the past years, malicious players have increasingly used crypto mixers and exchanges to cash out their ill-gotten wealth. This forced the U.S. authorities to sanction mixers like Tornado Cash for their role in laundering illicit funds.

Despite the sanctions, the protocol’s usage remains high as malicious players transferred over 1,000 ETH and 2,515 BNB into Tornado Cash as of April 30.

DeFi exploiters to face DOJ

Choi further noted that the agency would also focus on hacks involving decentralized finance (DeFi) โ€” particularly chain-bridge hacks.

The director said this was a “significant issue” considering the prevalence of North Korea-backed hackers in these activities.

Chain bridges allow crypto users to move their assets from one blockchain to another. Blockchain analytical firm Chainalysis reported that attacks on these protocols led to the loss of more than $2 billion last year โ€” most attacks were linked to North Korea-sponsored hackers.

Besides the North Korea-linked attacks, DeFi platforms have been victims of numerous exploits. For context, CryptoSlate reported that exploiters stole $93.4 million from 41 exploits on crypto projects in April โ€” averaging more than one exploit daily.