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Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized North Korea’s use of crypto and the rise of crypto scams during a Senate Armed Services hearing. She claimed that cryptocurrency poses a threat to national security and questioned Admiral John C. Aquilino about North Korea’s ability to pay for 56 intercontinental ballistic missiles with $1.7 billion in stolen crypto. Aquilino acknowledged that the number did not surprise him, as North Korea has been known for its involvement in crypto malware groups such as the Lazarus Group and Sinbad. Warren expressed concern that crypto is helping rogue states, terrorists, and criminal organizations fund their operations on an unprecedented scale, emphasizing the need for stronger regulation.

In addition to criticizing North Korea, Senator Warren highlighted the prevalence of “pig butchering” scams in the United States, where more than 40,000 people lost over $3.5 billion in crypto scams last year. She explained that pig butchering involves perpetrators exploiting victims’ trust to obtain more funds, with criminal gangs having stolen and laundered over $75 billion in crypto over the past four years. While not everyone may agree with Warren’s stance on crypto, her vivid depiction of the widespread impact of crypto-related crimes underscores the need for increased regulation and oversight.

During the hearing, Senator Warren also promoted her bipartisan bill, the Digital Assets Anti-Money Laundering Act (DAAMLA), which aims to close loopholes in anti-terrorist funding and impose stricter regulations on key players in the digital asset industry. Warren emphasized the importance of passing the bill, highlighting its support from both Republicans and Democrats as a crucial step towards curbing illicit activities facilitated by crypto. Her comments come in the context of heightened discussions around cryptocurrency regulation following a terrorist attack in Israel last October, where Hamas claimed the lives of over 1200 Israelis, underscoring the urgency of addressing crypto-related security risks.

As Senator Elizabeth Warren continues to criticize crypto and advocate for stronger oversight, she faces opposition from pro-crypto Republican candidate John Deaton in her upcoming senate race. Warren’s stance reflects ongoing concerns about the potential misuse of cryptocurrencies by malicious actors, including state-sponsored entities, terrorist organizations, and criminal groups. While regulatory efforts have resulted in a decrease in funds sent to crypto mixers from illicit addresses, the persistence of scams like pig butchering underscores the challenges posed by illicit activities in the crypto space. Warren’s push for the DAAMLA bill signals her commitment to addressing these challenges through bipartisan collaboration and regulatory action.

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