On 1 February 2023, OCWAR-M concluded its third training on financial investigations, crypto-currencies and the DarkWeb. Jointly organised with OCWAR-C and GLACY+, it was held at the Senegalese National Cybersecurity School with a regional vocation (ENVR).
The apparent anonymity conferred by the DarkWeb and crypto-currencies has led many criminals to use them to commit their offences; illicit activities thus flourish on the DarkWeb, where the majority of transactions are carried out with these currencies. Crypto-currencies are also prized by criminals because of their reliability and the irreversibility of transactions. To effectively combat financial and cyber crimes, it is now essential to have a good grasp of these issues.
OCWAR-M and OCWAR-C partners, aware of this need, had expressed their desire to be trained on this topic. This led these projects to develop, in partnership with GLACY+, a training course with a simple objective: enable investigators to “follow the money” of transactions carried out by criminals in crypto-currencies, particularly on the DarkWeb.
Some sixty investigators and analysts from financial intelligence units (FIUs), police officers and prosecutors from Francophone and Anglophone ECOWAS member states took part in sessions led by five trainers: Goran Jankoski, Mick Jameison and Robert Golobinek for the Anglophones and Olivier Beaudet-Labrecque and Aurélien Vuilleumier for the Francophones.
The three-day training consisted of three interconnected parts, all of which were interspersed with practical exercises carried out using the equipment provided by the ENVR. Firstly, the trainers and participants addressed the issue of financial investigations, emphasising the importance of cooperation between cybercrime and financial investigators and FIUs, which is essential in tracking down illicit financial flows online.
The second part dealt with crypto-currencies and presented their functioning and the blockchain so that the participants would have the necessary keys to cooperate with specialists in these matters in the framework of financial investigations. After this theoretical review, participants worked on techniques for investigating crypto-currency transactions by using blockchain explorers to practice tracking and analysing such transactions.
To ensure that crime does not pay, crypto-currencies must be seized in the same way as any other asset: good practices for seizing crypto-currencies were thus presented.
The third part of the training focused on the use of the DarkWeb by criminals: after theoretical reminders on its nature and functioning, the participants carried out practical work during which they explored the DarkWeb to deepen their understanding of its content and to practise turning its data into intelligence for financial investigations.
The training was closed by the European Union, the ECOWAS, the ENVR and the OCWAR-M and OCWAR-C project teams. Congratulations to all participants!