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US officers seize cryptocurrency accounts tied to al-Qaeda and ISIS

In total, the agents got back virtual currency worth around $ 2 million.

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13, 2020

2 min read

This story originally appeared on Engadget

The US authorities have cut funding campaigns for three terrorist organizations, including "the largest ever seizure of cryptocurrency by the government in connection with terrorism," according to the Justice Department. The Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were involved in the operation against the Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas military wing), Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The DoJ claims the Al-Qassam Brigades solicited Bitcoin donations through social media and their websites. Agents from the IRS, HSI and FBI confiscated 150 cryptocurrency accounts linked to the group. US-based people who allegedly donated to them have been the subject of search warrants, while the District of Columbia District Attorney's Office has launched money laundering against two Turkish people in connection with those fundraising drives.

According to another foreclosure complaint, Al-Qaeda and affiliates used Telegram and other social media channels to solicit Bitcoin donations. In some cases, the groups allegedly pretended to be charities. The agents uncovered 155 cryptocurrency accounts related to this terrorism fundraiser.

Related: Cryptocurrency And Taxes: What You Need To Know

As for ISIS, someone associated with the group allegedly carried out a COVID-19 scam using protective gear. Murat Cakar, whom the DoJ refers to as an “ISIS broker,” was selling fake N95 respirators and other protective equipment, according to a complaint on a website. A US customer tried to purchase equipment for hospitals, nursing homes, and fire departments. Officials confiscated this website along with four related Facebook pages.

In total, agents have received back cryptocurrency worth around $ 2 million, according to the New York Times. Once the case is closed, the victims of the government sponsored Terrorism Fund may receive some or all of the seized funds. Officials have also blacklisted some private crypto wallets, which allegedly hold millions of dollars more in virtual currency, making it harder for account holders to withdraw those funds through financial institutions.

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