The Cyber Crimes Division of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Arkansas has launched a pilot program involving the mining of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to monitor the activities of criminals online. The division has generated its own digital currency to track such crimes as the proliferation of child pornography.
The division intends to use bitcoins for undercover operations in various capacities online, helping combat child pornography, child predators and other crimes.
The detectives said they decided to mine bitcoins instead of buying them because it’s cheaper and because they know the money hasn’t been used for illegal purposes. The process will create a slow, daily stream of cryptocurrency that will look less suspicious to other users.
“People are selling child pornography on the dark web and on the Internet. They are accepting Bitcoins, not payments. We can’t use the sheriff’s office credit card, and we can’t exchange child pornography. We need some type currency to get this and then identify who we are getting it from. That way, we can go arrest that person,” said Detective David Undiano, a cybercrime detective.
Based on data from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, there has been an increase in the number of individuals who use Bitcoin and secret web browsers to trade or distribute child pornography, to illegally purchase drugs, as well as to engage in prostitution or human trafficking and other unlawful activities.