Over the last half decade, as the value of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum has skyrocketed, the associated coins and tokens have become not just means of payment but speculative investments traded among investors. This activity has led to increased interest from federal agencies, which seek to protect investors from fraud and the public from money-laundering by targeting traders and coin developers.
More recently, the federal government is taking aim at the centralized and decentralized exchanges where cryptocurrencies are traded. As ransomware attacks, such as the one that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, increasingly cause victims to acquire cryptocurrencies to pay ransom, federal prosecutors and regulators have begun taking a hard look at this ecosystem. In particular, the Biden Administration has increasingly focused on cryptocurrency exchanges by ramping up its monitoring and enforcement across various agencies. This article will review some recent developments at these regulatory and prosecutorial agencies.