Skip to main content

The Criminal Investigation team of the Internal Revenue Service has seized $3.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency during fiscal 2021, $1 billion of which was tied to darknet markets similar to the Silk Road. 


Learn how smart money is playing the crypto game. Subscribe to our premium newsletter - Crypto Investor.


According to the IRS annual report, the $3.5 billion the CI team seized accounted for 93% of the tax agency's criminal investigation seizures. The Chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation team, Jim Lee, said in the report that the $1 billion seized in the darknet-related case was one of the larger single seizures of cryptocurrency to date.

"This year, a civil forfeiture complaint was filed for thousands of Bitcoin valued at approximately $1 billion dollars, among the largest cryptocurrency seizures ever by the federal government. The complaint related to the Silk Road case, a sprawling black-market bazaar where unlawful goods and services were bought and sold regularly by the site’s users," said Lee.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

Lee said that the IRS along with tax authorities in other nations also unveiled a huge cryptocurrency mining scheme worth nearly $1 billion itself.

"We continued our partnership with the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5), an alliance between the criminal tax authorities of the U.S., Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, and this year we netted our second plea under this J5 umbrella in a $722 million cryptocurrency mining scheme," said Lee.

Lee added that advancements in technology have made it more convenient than ever to conduct their business and that the CI team will continue to invest in training and new techniques to combat the issue. 

“The speed at which money moves is already instantaneous and the convenience that comes with that opens the door for criminals to exploit the latest technological advancements,” Lee wrote in the report. “CI has committed to staying ahead of these developments, and we have made significant investments in training our employees in the latest tactics and techniques to be successful in a digital financial world.”