India’s Crypto Police Force Is 3,000 Strong and They Have a New Tool
by Oskar Trotman
Crypto crime is big business in India. According to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, citizens have lost over $100 million due to crypto scams. The government is gearing up to strike back by establishing cybercrime and police departments with officers specially trained in investigative methods and cryptocurrency forensics to fight crypto crime.
According to a report from India’s Ministry of Home Affairs for the financial year 2022–2023, numerous officials within the ministry received training, and more than 2,800 cyber police officers completed courses held at the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre.
The educational programs incorporate multiple agencies within the Ministry of Home Affairs, with the report revealing that 141 officers from the Narcotics Control Bureau were trained on the investigations of darknet and cryptocurrencies.
Workshops are regularly hosted to familiarize police officers with methods for collecting intelligence and evidence from social media platforms and other open-source resources. These training sessions are complex and include the introduction of emerging technologies like anonymization networks and mobile applications.
The police are also using old-fashioned tactics. Most of the scams in India were endorsed by local celebrities, who advertised the proposed crypto investments as safe. The police regularly arrest or question Bollywood stars and other influencers for their role in a crypto scam.
Pioneering Response to Crypto Crime
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs is equipping its personnel with a new valuable tool to stop the surge in illegal activities relating to crypto. The pioneering initiative resulted in a sophisticated software named Cryptocurrency Intelligence and Analysis Tool (CIAT), which will be managed by the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, an agency under the umbrella of the MHA and specializing in combating cybercrime.
The project will monitor darknet activities and respond to cryptocurrency transactions in India. It will be an automated system able to identify crypto wallet addresses, and flag detected suspicious activity. CIAT is expected to be activated at the end of 2023.
The data collected by CIAT will be used for the creation of a master database of all known global crypto exchanges. This database will enable law enforcement agencies to gather information about crypto transactions and track criminal and money laundering activities.
The Criminals Reach Is Global
Criminals are not stealing only from Indian citizens, they are active globally. It is believed that Indian criminals are responsible for a large share of the $10 billion stolen in 2022 through various scams or hacking attacks. Finding exact data is difficult because of the unregulated nature of blockchain and the intrinsic anonymity of crypto transactions. Reports from the FBI, which cite the $10 billion figure, might actually be undervaluing the scale of the problem. Most of the activity is focused on money laundering.
India was not a strong proponent of cryptocurrencies, but there is a change in attitude, and the country is emerging as a global leader in crypto adoption and the second-largest crypto market by transaction volume. The rise in crypto transactions requires a response from the government in tackling crypto-related crimes which follow a mainstream adoption of blockchain.