On December 3-5, 2018, the program hosted a cryptocurrency workshop in Barbados for participants from St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados.
The first day of the workshop focused on information relating to cryptocurrencies, including definitions and basic concepts such as wallets, blockchain, altcoin, and mining. Experts also introduced participants to the concept of using cryptocurrency to launder the proceeds of crime. Participants were exposed to different methods of cryptocurrency laundering, such as Peer-to-Peer Exchange, Cash-in-Mail, Bitcoin ATM and Bitcoin Gambling. Participants discussed how cryptocurrency can be used to conduct various methods of exploitation, such as ransomware, sextortion, smart contract fraud and ICO Investment Scams. Finally, experts explained the difference between the public and dark web and provided participants with an opportunity to visit the dark web to observe how it can be used to conduct cybersmuggling.
The second day's session used the basic knowledge obtained on the first day and explained how to build trust in the blockchain through analysis, clustering, and attribution. The last day of the workshop was dedicated to group exercises. Participants were required to work through mock cryptocurrency investigations. The scenarios tested participants on how to build criminal networks from items (such as addresses or recovery seeds) found in searches. Participants also broke into country groups and gave presentations about how to use the tools used in the workshop in on-going domestic investigations or use the tools to gather leads in new investigations.
The workshop highlighted how complex cryptocurrency investigations can be but also how even small steps can be critical to identifying and seizing illicit crypto assets. The importance of preserving relevant documents, including wallets, passwords and cryptocurrency addresses became clear, even if assistance is required further in the process to lead to a successful prosecution and recovery of the proceeds of crime.