As crime becomes increasingly international and has the potential to move even more online (including into the Metaverse), organisations like INTERPOL are critical to tackling new criminal threats.
This blog examines a recent report published by INTERPOL on crime in the Metaverse.
In November 2022, Gherson’s criminal litigation, investigations and regulation team described how INTERPOL had announced the creation of an Expert Group on the Metaverse in a blog titled Crypto and INTERPOL Part 2 – INTERPOL enters the Metaverse. This followed INTERPOL’s announcement on the unveiling of the first ever Metaverse, specifically designed for law enforcement worldwide.
In February 2023, we described how INTERPOL had announced the creation of an Expert Group on the Metaverse in a blog titled INTERPOL enters the Metaverse – Part 2, which discussed news reports that INTERPOL had started looking into how crime in the Metaverse could be investigated.
This was prior to writing about how INTERPOL had developed a specialist cryptoasset team to coordinate globally against digital asset crime.
As technology breaks down the barriers and crime increasingly moves online as we move into a more-digital world, law enforcement will need to keep up. An organisation with expansive reach and connections, such as INTERPOL, is well suited to face the changes in crime brought about by technological developments.
INTERPOL’s crime report on the metaverse
INTERPOL have recently issued a report titled “Metaverse: A Law Enforcement Perspective” (the “Report”). The Report provided an in-depth analysis of various dimensions of the Metaverse from the law enforcement perspective.
The introduction to the Report notes that whilst the Metaverse may appear to many as an abstract concept, INTERPOL has already taken steps to prepare for this endeavour. The introduction to the Report also notes how INTERPOL is set to provide guidance for the global law enforcement community and coordinate an effective response to keep the virtual world safe and secure.
The Report details the various advantages (immersive learning and retention, scalability and adaptability, resource efficiency and global collaboration) and challenges (technological and infrastructure requirements, data privacy and ethical concerns, legal and jurisdictional ambiguity and cybersecurity threats) in using the Metaverse for law enforcement. The Report also notes that future possibilities include integration with artificial intelligence and expanded virtual operations.
The Report details various types of crimes in the Metaverse and the potential harm that can be caused in and out of the Metaverse. The crimes detailed include identity crime, financial crime, property crime, intellectual crime and cybercrime.
With respect to financial crime, the Report notes that specific crimes, such as financial fraud, phishing, money laundering, tax crimes and scams, may be prevalent. With respect to money laundering, the Report notes that individuals may buy digital assets, such as Non Fungible Tokens or virtual currencies, with the proceeds of crime and then sell them for clean assets, thus clouding the money trail.
The Report also looks into Metaverse forensics and investigation, noting that the Metaverse will serve as a very important source of data and evidence and that law enforcement should be prepared to access data from Virtual Reality headsets and haptic devices, recover evidence from the Metaverse infrastructure, acquire data from third party Metaverse service providers and train forensic experts.
The Report has a section on blockchain forensics and cryptocurrency analysis and notes the difficulty in overcoming the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency transactions.
INTERPOL, Red Notices, crypto and now the Metaverse
Those who fear that a jurisdiction may have requested INTERPOL to process data relating to them in relation to any allegations of offences involving crypto or even in the Metaverse, or are just concerned about potential liability, should get in contact.
Indeed, Gherson Solicitors continue to receive requests for expert advice and assistance from those who fear they may have outstanding financial issues arising. That advice tackles:
- How to best approach a possible INTERPOL red notice;
- Preparing for potential criminal proceedings / an extradition request;
- Preparing for a situation where a civil matter or commercial dispute could be used to initiate bogus criminal proceedings; and
- Even exploring the possibility of instigating civil litigation proceedings to recover any misappropriated assets.
Gherson have previously written a series of blogs designed to assist those who fear they might be subject to INTERPOL measures (including a Red Notice):
Regulation and compliance
In these constantly changing times, firms that deal with cryptoassets, and additionally have exposure to firms that do, will need to carefully consider all their systems and controls to ensure that they are able to comply with all relevant AML and sanctions regulations.
How Gherson can assist
Additionally, the team has recently started a series on the regulation of crypto, with the aim of advising those who work in the compliance of this sector. In addition, for those who would like advice on relevant issues, including those who have had issues with the FCA registration process, our specialist regulatory and compliance team can guide individuals and companies through the process.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.