UCL Department of Security and Crime Science


Future Crime / Changing World Series: Cryptocurrencies presentation to Home Office

23 February 2021

On 5 February 2021, UCL Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in cybersecurity student Arianna Trozze and Dawes Centre for Future Crime student Josh Kamps delivered a presentation on cryptocurrencies to the Home Office as part of their Future Crime / Changing World Series.

Bitcoin logo surrounded by gold coins

The presentation was attended by more than 100 participants from the Home Office, DCMS, other civil servants, as well as individuals from the voluntary sector.  

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are a form of digital currency that are stored on a decentralised digital ledger known as the blockchain. According to Coinbase, in February 2016, one Bitcoin was worth about £300. On 1 January 2021, one Bitcoin was worth more than £23,000. To many people, cryptocurrencies are still something of a mystery but as well as having many benefits, they create opportunities for crime, including fraud.

The Future Crime / Changing World Series was organised by the Home Office in partnership with the Dawes Centre for Future Crime and the Worshipful Company of Information Technologies and remain ongoing. The aim of this series is to provide an overview of key technologies, trends, and issues that the Home Office and other participants should bear in mind in their approaches to policy and crime issues. The series covers many new technologies and their potential impacts on the policy interests and strategies of participants, including artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum, digital forensics, cybercrime, smart cities, and domestic abuse.

In their presentation, Josh and Arianna provided a detailed introduction to what cryptocurrencies are and how they work. They went on to discuss some of the legitimate and nefarious applications of cryptocurrencies. In terms of crimes, the presentation focused on money laundering; hacking, theft, and ransomware; and various types of fraud. The presentation touched on enforcement efforts around the world against cryptocurrency-based crimes and concluded with an overview of the future of finance (and fraud). This discussion centred on recent developments in decentralised finance and their potential applications.

Arianna is a PhD student at UCL’s CDT in cybersecurity, and her work focuses on the detection and prosecution of financial crimes that involve cryptocurrencies. Before joining the CDT, she worked for an international litigation firm, initially as a legal analyst, assisting with government enforcement defence and international judgment enforcement matters and later as the product manager for internal investigations, monitorships and asset forfeiture defence. Prior to that, she worked for the United Nations International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, focusing on digital inclusion initiatives and policies.

Josh is a PhD student at the Dawes Centre for Future Crime at UCL researching cryptocurrency fraud. His background is in computer science and his research interests lie at the intersection of the computational and social sciences. Cryptocurrency fraud deals with many of the same challenges that are present in the traditional financial market, but with a modern twist.