While cryptocurrency has a reputation for anonymity, the reality is more complicated.
A few weeks ago, $3.6 billion in bitcoin was seized from a Manhattan couple who were arrested and charged with money laundering in connection with a 2016 hack on the Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex.
Are bitcoin transactions anonymous? No. Bitcoin transactions can be traced, as demonstrated by the recent bust in Manhattan as well as last year's Colonial Pipeline hack, in which authorities were able to recoup some of the ransom payment from the attackers.
How is cryptocurrency traceable? The federal focus on crypto-related crime, combined with the increasing sophistication of law enforcement tools to trace illicit cryptocurrency payments, means that such dealings are not anonymous. But aside from the uptick in resources dedicated to stopping crypto crime, there's a simpler reason why these kinds of transactions aren't really anonymous for regular Americans.
How are suspicious crypto transactions reported? KYC refers to a financial services industry standard that protects against money laundering and other financial crime. For example, institutions under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation must have a clear relationship with their clients to develop a "customer risk profile," which is used to identify and report suspicious transactions to authorities.
Is any cryptocurrency truly anonymous? There are cryptocurrencies that people claim are 100% anonymous. However, any claim of fully anonymous transactions should be treated skeptically.