The Trump administration has launched a new task force aimed at protecting consumers from fraud, through executive order. While there are many different directions that such a project could take, it appears clear that the force will focus much of its efforts on combating cryptocurrency crime, according to Bloomberg. The task force and its directive against crypto fraud is the latest sign that Washington is deeply concerned about the potential for crimes centering on the popular investment area.
Justice Department to Lead
The new task force will be headed up by the Justice Department, although it will feature collaborations across many different government agencies. These include the SEC, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). An executive order designating the task force cited both "digital currency fraud" and "cyber fraud" as focal points for the project.
This is not the first time that a task force has been named to combat fraud; the Obama administration launched a similar project following the 2008 financial crisis, before cryptocurrencies as we know them today existed. However, in launching a new project, the Trump administration will better be able to control the focus for the force. Trump has asked the group to provide guidance for investigations and to recommend ways that cooperation across government agencies can be improved.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explained that "fraud committed by companies and their employees has a devastating impact on American citizens in the financial markets, the health care sector, and elsewhere." Rosenstein added that agencies would aim to coordinate their probes more specifically in order to avoid "piling on" to a single company. Previously, multiple agencies may have investigated a single violation at the same time. Part of the goal of streamlining this process, Rosenstein suggested, is that it may entice firms to cooperate with investigations and to report misconduct on a voluntary basis.
The CFPB, formed after the financial crisis with the goal of protecting consumers from predatory mortgage lending and credit card offers, is facing an overhaul by the Trump administration. It is a highly-politicized agency, drawing support from Democrats and negative feelings from many Republicans.
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