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IRS to send agents to fight cybercrime in key global markets

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(Kitco News) - As the value transacted via cryptocurrencies rises, the U.S. government is looking to step up its policing of cybercrime via the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation unit (IRS-CI), which will be rolling out a new cybercrime pilot program in June.

IRS-CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS and is responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, and identity theft.

According to a press release posted by the IRS on Thursday, the pilot program will see “cyber attachés” deployed across four continents to combat cybercrime, with a focus on tax and financial crimes that use cryptocurrency, decentralized finance (DeFi), peer-to-peer payments and mixing services.

The IRS said the four individuals tapped to serve as cyber attachés have significant expertise in investigating cybercrime and will work with IRS-CI's law enforcement counterparts in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.

The agents selected to serve as attachés are Peter Dickerman, a senior analyst for the IRS’ Digital Forensics Program; David Strager, who has experience overseeing criminal investigations into cryptocurrency tax evasion; Cuong Ly, whose expertise is crypto exchange fraud; and Stacey Perez, who has concentrated on investigating suspected money laundering crimes.

The attachés will be stationed in Sydney, Australia; Bogota, Colombia; Frankfurt, Germany; and Singapore on a 120-day deployment from June to September.

The IRS ramps up its effort to crack down on crypto tax evaders

“In order to effectively combat cybercrime, we need to ensure that our foreign counterparts have access to the same tools and expertise we have here in the United States," said IRS-CI Chief Jim Lee. “This summer, four of our most-skilled special agents will deploy to strategic locations on four continents to ensure that we can continue to build relationships and effectively combat cybercrime on a global scale.”

The IRC-CI previously established a permanent cyber attaché posted at Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, in June 2020. This position has focused on building partnerships and conducting law enforcement operations with IRS-CI's European law enforcement counterparts.

The new cyber attaché pilot program was modeled on the work done by this cyber attaché, the IRS said. IRS-CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, and the agency currently has 20 field offices located across the U.S. as well as 12 attaché posts abroad.

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