Inside Binance’s Fight Against Crypto Crime
Tigran Gambaryan (Global Head of Intelligence and Investigations) shares the facts, figures, and statistics behind our efforts to combat financial cybercrime over the past year.
In the final months of 2021, Binance started to build what would arguably become the industry’s most robust security and investigations team. In fact, given the people we now have, and the tools at our disposal, it’s possibly even the strongest in the entire financial sector.
These are big claims, I know.
With the year coming to an end, I want to share some of the fantastic work that has been done as part of our commitment to safeguarding the crypto ecosystem and, most importantly, its millions of users.
A World-Class Team
Fighting crime starts with the right people.
In the span of a year, our security and compliance team — much to the dismay of the criminals out there — has increased its headcount by more than 500%.
There’s no direct revenue that comes from investing in the people, tools, and initiatives to combat cybercrime, yet we continue to do so because it’s the right thing to do.
Given what we’ve been able to achieve together, it’s been a worthwhile investment.
Since November 2021, for example, Binance responded to over 47,000 law enforcement requests with an average response time of three days, which is faster than any traditional financial institution — some of which can take months, by which point the money has gone.
Many of the people I work with on the security team in Binance come from the world’s top investigative organizations and law enforcement agencies.
They bring a wealth of world-class experience with them.
Before Binance, I was a Special Agent at the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Cyber Crimes Unit for over a decade. I led successful investigations to help those impacted by Mt Gox and uncover the corrupt DEA agent in the Silk Road case.
My colleague, Matthew Price, also has a wealth of experience in this space thanks to his work as a former IRS Criminal Investigation agent. For example, he was the lead agent on both the Bitcoin Fog and Helix/Grams investigations.
For anyone interested in those particular cases, Wired journalist Andy Greenberg’s book Tracers In The Dark: The Global Hunt For The Crime Lords Of Cryptocurrency gives a lot more detail on both of our work during that time.
Adding to this list, we have a dark web expert from Europol — Nils Andersen-Röed, who also features in Greenberg’s book — a former US Treasury criminal investigator, and a sanctions expert with over 17 years of experience in traditional and digital finance, among many others.
Binance has worked hard to build the world’s leading crypto security and investigation team full of best-in-class experts. It’s safe to say we’ve hired incredible law enforcement talent.
We will continue to grow, and continue to seek the top talent from around the world to join us.
Global Law Enforcement
Beyond the walls of Binance, we’ve strengthened and built relationships with law enforcement across the world. This has led to our team responding to over 47,000 law enforcement requests since November 2021 — as previously mentioned.
We respond fast, almost certainly more quickly than anyone else out there, while also ensuring we treat every case with the utmost attention to detail.
Sometimes authorities just need our advice on a case. And sometimes, we’re required because of our armory of investigative tools and software, and experience tracking the data.
As a company with millions of users, who always come first, we also ensure each request is well within the boundaries of user privacy and rights. Each request goes through a strict process and thorough legal scrutiny to evaluate its validity and urgency.
And thanks to the work we’ve done with our law enforcement partners, we’ve managed to recover millions of dollars for victims of cybercrime.
We’ve also seen the benefits and growth of our Global Law Enforcement Training Program, which we created to help law enforcement and prosecutors across the world detect financial and cybercrimes, and to assist in the prosecution of bad actors.
During the past year, this program has led to us sharing our insider knowledge and expertise over the course of more than 70 workshops and training sessions with law enforcement and prosecutors in a variety of countries — from Asia to Europe, and the Americas.
The list includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Philippines, Sweden, South Korea, Thailand, and the UK — to name but a few.
The Law Enforcement Training Program is truly the first of its kind, and a credit to the crypto industry when it comes to recognising the importance of global security and compliance.
During the workshops, participants learn from our senior investigators and compliance experts.
We cover the fundamentals of crypto and its underlying technology, the evolving laws and industry regulations, and crucially, the tools and methods our team uses to combat cybercrime.
Let this be known to the naysayers and aspiring criminals: crypto is not the criminal tool the media often makes it out to be. Nor is it a lawless domain governed by crypto exchanges that refuse to work with law enforcement.
Crypto is NOT a safe haven for illicit activities. I know this is the truth for Binance, at least.
To recap, in 2022, our team has:
Responded to over 47,000 law enforcement requests
Increased security and compliance headcount by more than 500%
Participated in over 70 anti-cybercrime workshops with global law enforcement
Became the first blockchain and crypto company to join the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA)
The list here is just a tiny, albeit crucial, portion of the work our Security and Compliance team has accomplished over the last year. The brunt of what we do goes on behind the scenes, hidden from the spotlight, and rarely recognized by the media or wider public.
While we celebrate these accomplishments, our team is fueled by the little wins every day: the bad actors we help stop, the people we’re able to return stolen funds to, and the law enforcement agents empowered to solve cases using the knowledge from our workshops.
At Binance, we recognise that the sustainable and secure growth of the entire crypto ecosystem requires partnership and dialogue with global law enforcement, and I look forward to continuing that all-important work together in the months and years to come.