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cryptocurrency detective

What is a Crypto Detective And Who Hires Them?

There’s a new kind of PI job that’s gotten a whole lot of attention in the past couple of years: A crypto detective or blockchain detective. Crypto isn’t traditionally associated with private investigators. At a glance, it doesn’t look like PIs have much to do with blockchain or related tech at all. But that’s rapidly starting to change. If you’re a tech-savvy PI and already experienced at digging into databases and code to find hidden details, this could be a new, lucrative option for you. Here’s what’s going on.

Wait, What Exactly Do You Mean by Crypto?

Crypto, blockchain, Web3, and similar terms get thrown around a lot, sometimes by people who don’t know what they are. In this case, crypto specifically refers to cryptocurrency, or digital currencies that use blockchain technology to encrypt them. Blockchains are a specific way of logging and securing online data via users who take part in the system, a bit like an open-source version of notarizing. The goal of most cryptocurrencies is to create a free-flowing, decentralized currency that isn’t managed by any one government and can serve user needs more directly.

So Why Does Crypto Need Detectives?

Because of the nature of cryptocurrency, it attracts people who don’t want governments tracking where and how they spend money. A notable portion of these people are criminals. They use cryptocurrency to try and hide spending on drugs, illegal weapons, outlawed activities, and a whole lot more. Cryptocurrency creators haven’t really found a way to stop this yet, so it remains a widespread problem.

When this criminal activity catches the eye of law enforcement or financial organizations that have been affected, they usually want to track down the perpetrators. That poses unique challenges since cryptocurrency is designed to be largely anonymous and access to its records is by nature limited. Investigations require specialists who understand crypto, how money enters and leaves cryptocurrencies, and how to use the available data to pinpoint specific users. Enter the crypto detective, which is similar to a financial forensic investigator but with an additional specialty.

Who Hires Crypto Detectives?

Here’s where it gets interesting for the average tech-oriented PI. Traditionally, most crypto investigations are launched by large-scale law enforcement such as the FBI. These agencies already have financial experts or contract with specialists to do this kind of work, so there aren’t many opportunities for the everyday PI. But that’s changed in recent years.

Now, we’re seeing a variety of clients looking for crypto investigation services. That can include:

  • Law firms that need to track funds that have been purposefully moved or hidden as part of an important case.
  • Individuals who believe a family relation or friend stole their money and tried to hide it via crypto or cheated them via crypto payments.
  • Businesses that believe an employee embezzled funds and hid them in crypto and would like an expert to find the details.

Finally, there are also plenty of white-hat crypto opportunities for those who really want to dive into the industry. PIs may be able to offer their services to websites, merchants, and creators that accept cryptocurrency and want to make sure their crypto process is secure, and they are mitigating their risk of accepting stolen funds. There are a lot of opportunities out there for those who want to explore this field.

How Can You Get Training to Be a Crypto Detective?

Any background in financial forensics is going to be very helpful for this job, although it’s not absolutely required. If you’re experienced in tech and have helped track financial details before, you may not need formal forensic training before you jump into crypto investigations.

When you’re ready, there are a number of avenues to start your crypto training. You can find basic online guides at Udemy, and online learning sites often have periodic classes in cryptocurrency investigation techniques like this option from Cellebrite. When ready, you can move on to more complete online certification options like this course from McAfee Institute. Once you have a formal certification, you can start advertising your crypto services and taking on clients. Produce results, and you can ask for crypto-oriented testimonials or reviews that can help net more clients.

Are There Any Risks to Being a Crypto Detective?

Very few. You will need to invest in certification to gain the knowledge and experience you need to get started, so there’s certainly an upfront cost. That can be risky if you aren’t sure you can get much crypto work. But otherwise, there aren’t really any personal or safety risks. Lawsuits from angry clients or subjects of an investigations are a possibility, but they aren’t as likely with crypto services as they are with some other, more personal fields.

Final Notes: A New Tech Field for Investigators

Crypto investigations represent a new tech field for investigators that can be very lucrative for those in the right areas. If you do frequent tech or financial work for your clients, it may be worth looking into crypto training so you can add it to your skill set.

It’s always a good idea for private investigators to keep covered. Lawsuits can come from many unexpected directions during high-stakes cases. Take a look at El Dorado’s liability insurance options for PIs to make sure you’re covered.

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