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What Happens When Cops Seize Crypto and Bitcoin?

Looking in couch cushions and behind photo frames is part of law enforcement’s new role when seizing digital assets.

A cryptocurrency hardware wallet device. 

A cryptocurrency hardware wallet device. 

Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg
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Picture this: you’re the FBI, trying to track down the digital keys that will give you access to illicit or stolen crypto. You’re rifling through books and papers stuffed in suitcases or tearing open gum wrappers. Seems like something out of a movie, but in the world of crypto these odd nooks and crannies have become normal places for law enforcement to look for digital passwords. In 2021 alone, cops in the US and UK seized billions of dollars worth of crypto assets from various criminal busts. With so much money on the line, enforcement agencies around the world have had to learn quickly how to spot these digital assets and seize them from accused criminals.

In this episode, Bloomberg reporters Ellen Milligan and David Voreacos discuss how the seizures of digital assets are transforming policing policies and protocols around the world.