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Tax Enforcement Chiefs from 5 Countries Engage in 'Challenge' to Investigate Cybercrime

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Nov 3, 2023

GettyImages-1097676716 Hacker Crypto Cybercrime Cybersecurity

The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5)’s annual Cyber Challenge, which took place in Ottawa, Canada, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, focused on data mining and financial reporting relating to crypto-assets and technology-enabled financial threats.

The J5, which works together to gather information, share intelligence and conduct coordinated operations against transnational financial crimes, consists of the IRS-Criminal Investigations (CI) unit, along with the Australian Taxation Office, the Canada Revenue Agency, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service, and His Majesty's Revenue and Customs from the United Kingdom.

The J5 held its first Cyber Challenge in 2018 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, with the aim of tracking down those who make a living facilitating and enabling international tax crime. The following year, the United States hosted a second challenge in Los Angeles focused on cryptocurrency.

Previous challenges have generated significant leads for the organizations to investigate. BitClub Network, a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme in which thousands of people were scammed into buying into a bogus mining pool, is one of the first J5 successes that stemmed from the J5 Challenges. Last year, a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme affecting each of the J5 countries was uncovered.

This year, using different analytical tools, members from each country were put into teams and tasked with generating leads and finding tax offenders, based on the new data available to them through the challenge. The tax authorities have developed more than 50 leads by working together this week, they told reporters during a press conference on Nov. 2, Accounting Today reported.

"Since the inception of the J5, events known as challenges have been held that are aimed at tracking down those who are making a living out of facilitating and enabling international tax fraud," said Eric Ferron, director general of the Criminal Investigations Directorate in the Canada Revenue Agency. "It brings together investigators, crypto experts and data scientists from all five countries to work together in a collaborative fashion with our private sector partners. This year's challenge focused on data mining and financial reporting relating to crypto assets and technology-enabled financial threats."

These ‘Challenges’ have been incredibly fruitful for the J5 over the years, giving us sophisticated cases with large-dollar amounts that affect multiple jurisdictions,” said IRS-CI Chief Jim Lee. “But the results should not be a surprise to anyone. When you put really smart people together from different backgrounds, give them the data and tools they need, and create an environment where partnerships are the priority, amazing results happen every time."

To learn about skills that can help professionals and their organizations become more effective in dealing with risk, fraud, cybersecurity, mergers and acquisitions, attend the Foundation for Accounting Education’s CFO Series: Staying Ahead in a Dynamic Economy Webinar on Nov. 27

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