On Wednesday, 11th July, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating a task force that will work to develop guidance for ‘cryptocurrency fraud investigations’.
According to the executive order, the “Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud ” will be focusing on consumer fraud. Digital currency fraud is now added to the list of areas that the task force will be providing guidance to. This list will involve investigation and prosecuting the said cases.
How the task force will implement this has not been specified as yet, but there will most likely be some sort of report that is sent to the Trump administration.
Earlier this year, the U.S. government stated that it is looking to work towards a “comprehensive” strategy in dealing with cryptocurrencies, laying primary focus on market fraud. In February, a cybersecurity task force was implemented by the U.S. Department of Justice. Its mandate includes cryptocurrencies.
At the time, Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein addressed this by saying:
“A lot of these schemes involve bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies which do not flow through the traditional financial system. What we’re working on now with our cybercrime task force is working on a comprehensive strategy to deal with that.”
In May this year, it was reported that the U.S Department of Justice is working with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC] to launch a criminal investigation to determine if cryptocurrency traders are manipulating prices using illegal practices.
What attracts these criminals to cryptocurrency fraud is the fact that their decentralized system is not tied to any bank or government, nor are they regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC]. Traders are therefore on their own without protection against the market.
Starting this year, however, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has been more proactive in prosecuting cases of cryptocurrency fraud. There have been cases wherein federal court enforcement action has been filed against companies and individuals who were accused of embezzling funds by preying on customers invested in cryptocurrencies.
The U.S. Department of Justice has taken a close look at Bitcoin’s rapid rise and fall of rates earlier this year. They opened a criminal probe into price manipulation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The focus of the investigation has been drawn to practices like spoofing and wash trading.
- Spoofing is when people fill the marketplace with fake orders and later cancel them in order to manipulate other to buy or sell a particular coin.
- Wash trading is when someone trades with oneself so that it is falsely implied that there is more market demand than there actually is.
The lack of serious regulation and monitoring in the cryptocurrency market acts as an invitation to scams. Consequently, taskforces such as CFTC is working on these matters.