Dutch police too focused on Bitcoin, falling behind on other blockchains, experts say

The Dutch investigative authorities do not have enough expertise about new blockchains and are falling behind cybercriminals, experts said to BNR. The police focus too much on Bitcoin and not enough on other blockchains like Tron, which are rapidly gaining popularity among criminals, the broadcaster wrote.

According to Frank van Weert of Whale Alert, a company that develops software for detecting crypto scammers, the police need to move on from Bitcoin. “That’s really something from six years ago. Smart criminals no longer use that,” he said to the broadcaster. “You see Tron a lot on sites where stolen data is traded. Bitcoin is still used, but criminals have usually already moved to other currencies among themselves. That’s been going on for years.” Ralph Moonen of Secura agreed.

According to Whale Alert figures, the most virtual dollars (Tethers) have been traded through Tron since October. In October 2021, 280 billion dollars were traded via Tron. It took first place from Ethereum. Bitcoin already lost first place in July 2019. 

An analysis of court rulings on rechtspraak.nl showed that the Dutch authorities are still mainly focused on Bitcoin, according to the broadcaster. The term “Bitcoin” appeared in 172 rulings. The only other cryptocurrencies that came up were four mentions of Etherium and one of Monero.

BNR asked the National Police and FIOD, the Tax Authority’s investigative department, which cryptocurrencies they monitor. Both declined to answer. FIOD cited “operational reasons.” The police said they didn’t want to broadcast weak points in the investigation. But sources familiar with this type of investigation told BNR that investigations are limited to Bitcoin, Bitcoin Lightning, Ethereum, and Monero. The software used by Dutch law enforcement agencies doesn’t even support Tron, the sources said. 

TU Delft lecturer Rolf van Wegberg, who researched the forensic application of blockchain analysis and often collaborated with the Dutch authorities, confirmed that criminals use a growing number of cryptocurrencies. But he believes it logical that the police focus on only a limited number. “It is about capacity and efficiency,” he said to the broadcaster. “From that point of view, it makes sense to focus on Bitcoin. There are many leads, and the currency is relatively easy to analyze.”

Van Wegberg added that criminals can’t use Tron or Moreno to buy a house on a tropical island. They’ll have to exchange it somewhere. “That is the point at which the investigative services regain insight into where the money is going.” The police may be in danger of falling behind, he said. “But it’s always kind of like that. Police work is simply reactive.”