The fiscal year 2021 yielded $3.5bn of crypto seizures, accounting for 93% of all assets that have been seized by tax enforcement over the surveyed period, according to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The agency expects to seize billions more of crypto linked to tax fraud or other crime in the coming years. So, if you think the IRS is oblivious to crypto assets or you owing tax on them, you may want to think twice.
The whopping amount of crypto relative to the total seizures conducted in 2021 indicate that criminals are increasingly turning to alternative vessels for storing wealth or ill-gotten gains, with crypto being a favorite.
There have been seizures from non-criminal operations as well, the IRS explained, mostly related to people not paying due taxes.
Commenting on the results during a call with reporters, IRS criminal investigation chief Jim Lee said: “I expect a trend of crypto seizures to continue as we move forward into fiscal year ’22. We’re seeing crypto involved in a number of our crimes as we move forward.”
The IRS has become more active in addressing these cyber crimes and looking to retrieve stolen cryptocurrencies and other funds, especially considering an increase in attacks on businesses.
Criminals were able to spirit away $1bn stolen from Silk Road, a Bitcoin exchange that was shut back in 2013. Apparently, the IRS has been finally able to catch up with the thieves and retrieve the stolen cryptocurrency.
The IRS also acted against a former Microsoft software developer who used crypto to hide the fact they had embezzled $10m from the company. The IRS is getting new powers to oversee the cryptocurrency industry which should help the operator tackle criminal activities.