On May 23, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein addressed attendees at the Emerging Frauds in the Digital Age Conference, focusing in particular on some specific ways technological advancements have offered both “new investment vehicles to stimulate the economy and bring economic growth” as well as “new avenues for criminals to engage in larger, more devastating fraud schemes and to avoid detection.”  Rosenstein first discussed new opportunities and problems presented by unregulated online “crowdfunding,” which creates a new forum for quick and easy fundraising but also “provide[s] a platform for criminals to defraud potential investors.”  Rosenstein then discussed online trading, noting both the increases in efficiency it allowed as well as the potential for manipulation and fraud through “spoof orders.”  As a final example, Rosenstein pointed to virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, which he described as having “the potential to transform the world, and to do so in a positive way,” but as also opening up new methods to launder money and perpetuate fraud schemes.  One such method that he described was “ransomware” attacks, where hackers encrypt a person’s files and demand payment in “difficult-to-trace virtual currency” to decrypt the data, essentially holding a person’s computer hostage.  Rosenstein concluded by affirming DOJs commitment to “thoroughly investigating and aggressively prosecuting fraud cases,” even as criminals “use sophisticated tools, such as encryption, the dark web, and virtual currency to shield their identities from law enforcement.”  Rosenstein also described financial fraud as a global problem that called for law enforcement to “deepen its already strong partnerships with the private sector, regulatory agencies, and our international counterparts.”

DOJ Press Release