Between 19-21 June 2018, over 300 participants from 40 countries convened in The Hague for the 5th Virtual Currencies Conference organised by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) to discuss one of the hottest topics of this year: virtual currencies, and how to foster the legitimate use of this virtual monetary system often abused by hackers, international drug dealers and the money movers of organised crime.
While the majority of participants came from law enforcement agencies and public prosecutors’ offices, key experts from well-known cryptocurrency services were also in attendance - the very companies who foster the legitimate use of virtual currencies by implementing strong Know Your Customer (KYC) policies and working hand in hand with law enforcement. Private sector participants included Bitcoin.de, Bitfinex, BitPanda, Bitstamp, BitPay, Blockchain.info, CEX, Coinfloor, Coinhouse, Cryptopia, Cubits, Kraken, LocalBitcoins, OKCoin, SpectroCoin and Xapo.
By bringing together a variety of experts from different disciplines and practices, Europol’s Virtual Currencies conference has contributed to the development of an expert community of investigators, prosecutors and experts from the relevant private sector. This year, the presentation focused, among other things, on tracing, attribution and demixing approaches. Twelve operational case studies were presented, where suspects were detected through cryptocurrency tracing, including phishing incidents, DDoS extortion, takedowns of dark web marketplaces and malicious cryptocurrency mining.
As in previous editions, participants also reflected on the legitimate use of blockchain technologies, including the use of cryptocurrencies for trading/investment activities, payment methods for goods and services and as a store of value.
In order to practically demonstrate the benefits of the tamper-proof decentralised ledger technology, all speakers received Europol’s certificates permanently stored and fully traceable within Bitcoin blockchain. Europol therefore became the first law enforcement organisation to award active participants blockchain validated certificates.