The criminal abuse of cryptocurrencies increases with their general adoption and legitimate use. While the focus of criminal investigations in the past has almost universally been on Bitcoin, a number of post-Bitcoin era cryptocurrencies are emerging in the digital underground: Monero is now accepted in darknet marketplaces and has already been used as payment mechanism in ransomware kits. Ethereum and Zcash are also accepted for payments and purchases in the darknet and first attempts are being made to build decentralized darknet marketplaces on-top of the Ethereum blockchain.
The goal of the VIRTCRIME project lies in the development of novel algorithms and methods for tracing criminal transactions in post-Bitcoin era cryptocurrencies, while considering illegitimate activities in Darknet market places. Expected tools will build upon results from previous projects (e.g., BITCRIME) and can be validated by stakeholders in an early project phase using real-word application use cases. Orthogonally, the project will provide novel criminological procedures and law enforcement approaches, and investigate legal pre-conditions and consequences.
The project will not only address the needs of stakeholders that are part of the consortium, but will also, in regular intervals, reach out to other private (banks, fin-techs) and public stakeholders to validate project results based on their requirements. Furthermore, VIRTCRIME will organize trainings for staff members of these institutions.