NCA launches new ‘Crypto Cell’ team to combat rising digital assets fraud

National Crime Agency launches ‘Crypto Cell’ to combat digital assets fraud after Britons were scammed out of £226m in just 12 months

  • Regulators are growing more concerned about the damage of crypto scams
  • About £226m was lost to crypto scams from October 2021 to September 2022 
  • Many investors remain highly sceptical of backing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin  

The National Crime Agency has launched a new unit aimed at clamping down on crypto crime amid a surge in digital assets fraud.

A team of five people are being recruited to join a team based within the National Cyber Crime Unit targeting crypto criminals.

In a job advertisement published on the Civil Service Careers website, the NCA said those applying to working in the NCCU ‘Crypto Cell’ must have an extensive knowledge of complex crypto-currency probes.

Hiring: A team of five people are being recruited to join a team based within the National Cyber Crime Unit that will target crypto criminals, an NCA spokesman told This is Money

They must also have significant experience supervising blockchain forensic investigations on serious and organised crime cases.

Successful candidates will receive an annual salary of between £40,200 and £43,700, with those in London receiving an additional pay weighting to reflect the higher cost of living.

Police forces and financial regulators are growing more concerned about the damage caused to Britons by crypto scams, which have boomed since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Chris Lewis-Evans from the NCA said: ‘This is a really exciting opportunity which involves working in a team at the forefront of protecting the UK from cybercrime.

‘Cryptocurrency and virtual assets are widely viewed as specialist areas of knowledge, and this role is key to supporting NCA investigations in which these are used to enable serious criminality.’

A total of £226million was lost to cryptocurrency scams between October 2021 and September 2022, according to recent figures from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime.

This amount was almost a third higher than the previous year and included losses of £33million in May when the so-called ‘algorithmic stablecoin’ Terra and its sister coin Luna collapsed.

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are, in theory, pegged to a reserve asset, often a fiat currency like the dollar.

Some investors remain highly skeptical of such products and the broader crypto industry, many of whom question the inherent value of currencies like Bitcoin.

Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffet, investor and The Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are among prominent critics of cryptocurrencies.

Virtual currencies have been in the spotlight following the arrest of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that went bankrupt in November.

US prosecutors have accused the entrepreneur, whose net worth was once estimated at $26.5billion, of defrauding customers by using their money to buy homes, make political donations and pay off debts at a separate company he owned.

Bankman-Fried pled not guilty in a New York court on Tuesday to all charges against him. If found guilty, he could face up to 115 years in prison.