The FBI announced the launch of its Virtual Assets Unit (VAU), a new unit designed to be able to go after criminals looking to use cryptocurrency to aid in their crimes, the FBI announced March 15.


Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco first spoke of the unit’s existence last month at the annual Munich Cyber Security Conference. According to the FBI, VAXU has been operational since Feb. 7 under the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division’s Financial Crimes Section.


“The FBI’s new Virtual Assets Unit is the result of collaboration, hard work, and strategic vision from FBI employees who came together to establish a virtual currency center of excellence in the FBI,” Brian Turner, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, said in the release.


The unit will look to disrupt and pursue criminals using cryptocurrency to carry out ransomware attacks, child exploitation, and other forms of online criminal activity. VAU will help the FBI track illicit funds moved through cryptocurrency, give criminal attributions, and disrupt criminal activities.


“The FBI has a long history of using virtual currency to track criminals profiting from ransomware, soliciting murders-for-hire, and raising funds for terrorist organizations,” Turner added. “The VAU will integrate experts across the organization to leverage the outstanding work being done every day.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.