Dutch police seized seven and a half times more crypto last year than in 2019, with prosecutors blaming an increase in the types of crime involving digital currencies.
Police reclaimed around $9.9 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2020, according to the country’s Public Prosecutors Service. This is compared to just $1.3 million in the previous year, noted NL Times.
The increase in seized crypto reflects an across-the-board spike in funds confiscated from Dutch criminals. Cash and cryptocurrency totalling $366 million was reclaimed last year — roughly $54 million more than 2019.
Most of this was confiscated from criminals and returned to victims, with $222 million reclaimed on behalf of foreign countries.
Dutch police say the rise is likely because disposing of funds has become more difficult during the pandemic.
Specifically, gangs have been unable to stash stolen money in the usual heavily-cash-reliant companies, like cafes, bars or launderettes.
Crypto crime is still a priority for Dutch police
Criminal activity still makes up a small percentage of the crypto economy and has actually fallen over the past year.
However, the different types of criminal activity involving digital currencies continues to grow.
Countries across Europe have made cracking down on crypto crime a priority in recent months, particularly money laundering.
One reported example was a man and wife charged with and convicted of money laundering last year after Dutch police seized 2,532 BTC, worth around $33 million.
The couple bought and traded millions in Bitcoin without notifying authorities, meeting clients via the dark web and neglecting to ask for any identification to carry out KYC checks.
The pair moved close to $19 million in Bitcoin over two years.