The FBI and Crypto
Cyberattacks, ransomware and the challenges of fighting crime in the digital age
Streaming here on:
July 8, 2021 at 3PM EST | 12PM PT
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), born in 1908, was created to address fast moving technological developments of the day. That same year Henry Ford's Model T began rolling off assembly lines making automobiles affordable to the masses and attractive to illicit actors who could drive cross country on violent crime sprees -- think Bonnie and Clyde. Indeed, it was cross-border technology that called for a national law enforcement entity with the tools and training necessary to meet a new breed of borderless criminal.
While the technology has changed over the years, the Bureau's mission has stayed the same: "to identify, disrupt and dismantle existing and emerging criminal enterprises whose activities affect the United States." Today, George "Machine Gun" Kelly has been replaced by ransomware-as-a-service providers, darknet market administrators, cybercriminals, weapons proliferators and other modern threat actors. Many of these criminals have gone online in order to move funds at the speed of the internet, elude law enforcement, and obfuscate transactions. This month, a New York Times headline read, "Bitcoin and Encryption: A Race Between Criminals and the F.B.I.," and The Wall Street Journal sounded, "FBI Director Compares Ransomware Challenge to 9/11." As illicit actors and the FBI move to a digital battlefield, cryptocurrency, the internet of money, poses both unique risks and unique capabilities. TRM Talks to the FBI about how the Bureau is meeting these emerging threats and building cases in the age of crypto.
Steven M. D'Antuono
Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office, FBI
On October 13, 2020, FBI Director Christopher Wray named Steven M. D’Antuono as the assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office.
Mr. D’Antuono joined the FBI as a forensic accountant in 1996 and was assigned to the Providence Resident Agency in Rhode Island, under the Boston Field Office. He supported criminal investigations into financial crimes, public corruption, organized crime, drugs, and counterintelligence. In 1998, Mr. D’Antuono was appointed a special agent. After graduating from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, he was assigned to the Washington Field Office to investigate white-collar crime and public corruption. Mr. D’Antuono was promoted to supervisory special agent in 2004 and returned to the FBI Academy to teach white-collar crime courses. He transferred back to the Washington Field Office in 2008 to supervise a public corruption and government fraud squad. Mr. D’Antuono was promoted to an assistant special agent in charge at the St. Louis Field Office in 2014, overseeing the Criminal and Administrative branches. In 2017, Mr. D’Antuono was promoted to chief of the Financial Crimes Section of the Criminal Investigative Division. He oversaw all white-collar crime programs in the Bureau, including corporate securities and commodities fraud, economic crimes, financial institution fraud, money laundering, health care fraud, intellectual property, and forensic accountant programs. Prior to joining the FBI, Mr. D’Antuono was a certified public accountant focused on auditing, forensic accounting, and taxation. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Rhode Island.
Supervisory Special Agent, Head of Counterterrorism Financing Unit, FBI
Supervisory Special Agent Kyle C. Armstrong leads the FBI’s Counterterrorism Financing Unit. SSA Armstrong’s Unit leverages financial intelligence to disrupt illicit financing. As such, SSA Armstrong’s Unit scrutinizes both fiat and virtual currency transactions and methodologies in order to apply germane statutory theories for disruption. SSA Armstrong entered the FBI in 2008 and has worked illicit finance matters at FBI Headquarters, FBI Chicago, and FBI Phoenix. SSA Armstrong has worked with the FBI’s Virtual Currency Evolving Threat team since 2018.
Management and Program Analyst, Virtual Currency Evolving Threats Team, FBI
Ali Comolli is a member of the Virtual Currency Evolving Threats (VCET) Team in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Criminal Investigative Division, where she specializes in the investigation of virtual currency money laundering and money laundering facilitation matters across threat programs. She also covered transnational criminal organizations operating on the Darknet and supported the FBI’s international efforts to combat cybercrime. She is a graduate of Duke University and the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and is admitted to the Massachusetts bar.
Head of Legal and Government Affairs at TRM Labs
Ari Redbord is Head of Legal and Government Affairs at TRM Labs, a blockchain analytics company that helps organizations detect, assess and investigate crypto-related fraud and financial crime. Prior to his role at TRM, Ari was the Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary and the Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the United States Treasury. In that position, he worked with teams from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and other Treasury components to deploy sanctions and other regulatory tools against threat actors, including terrorist financiers, weapons of mass destruction proliferators, drug kingpins, and other rogue actors, including Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela. In addition, Ari worked closely with regulators, the Hill and the interagency on issues related to the Bank Secrecy Act, cryptocurrency, and anti-money laundering strategies.
Prior to Treasury, Ari was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for eleven years where he investigated and prosecuted terrorism, espionage, threat finance, cryptocurrency, export control, child exploitation and human trafficking cases.