Cryptocurrency analytics firm CipherTrace has launched “Defenders League,'' a program designed to provide students with the training and tools necessary to investigate crypto-related scams. 

On Jan. 13 CipherTrace announced partnerships with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Middlesex University London, and the Blockchain Acceleration Foundation (BAF). The Defenders League will initially consist of graduate students from Middlebury and Middlesex, along with BAF students at nine universities located across California.

CipherTrace’s chief financial analyst, John Jeffereies, told Cointelegraph that the Defenders League’s objective is to make the crypto economy safer for consumers and investors.

CipherTrace reported that the cost of thefts, scams and fraud has already reached over $4 billion by the end of Q3 2019, emphasizing the urgent need for proper solutions to be brought to market to combat crypto crime and protect individual investors. Jefferies said:

“Together, the collaborating entities will empower students with training and tools to investigate crypto-related scam and fraud cases, helping to make the crypto economy safer for everyone.”

A free training program for students

According to Jefferies, CipherTrace will train and certify students to use its financial investigation software. The software is used to detect money laundering, power law enforcement investigations and enable regulatory supervision. 

CipherTrace is providing a $4.3 million grant to the Defenders League to help students visualize blockchain interactions, allowing them access to the CipherTrace data visualization tool, which is a standard component of the software.

Jefferies explained that students in the Defenders League will have complete access to the professional version of the company’s software – CipherTrace Investigator Plus – that supports over 800 tokens:

“With access to the full suite of CipherTrace tools, certified students will be able to trace funds lost in cryptocurrency fraud and theft.” 

Jefferies mentioned that students in the training program will receive class credit while providing services to help recover “small” losses that are typically too small for law enforcement officials to investigate. CipherTrace’s director of investigations and education, Pam Clegg, said:

"We've experienced a significant increase in requests for investigative and analytic support for fraud and theft cases. The CipherTrace Defenders League will be an elite corps of blockchain knowledgeable students who can conduct smaller-scale investigations. Their objective will be to produce actionable intelligence and evidence that can be used to recover stolen funds and ultimately prosecute those criminal actors responsible for the losses."

Moving forward, Jefferies told Cointelegraph that CipherTrace is working on an initiative to grant software licenses to researchers and instructors at other universities and even to the United Nations. He mentioned that CipherTrace, along with BAF, is actively discussing bringing several more institutions on board to join the Defenders League. BAF’s vice president, Piergiacomo Palmisani, told Cointelegraph:

“This is an incredible opportunity for students, who will have access to the same top notch tools used by CipherTrace employees. The Blockchain Acceleration Foundation will work closely with CipherTrace to ensure the success of this initiative at our partner universities and help expand the Defenders League to other schools in the country."

In addition, CipherTrace will be offering free “CipherTrace Certified Examiner” (CTCE) one-day training events. Boot camps will take place in Monterey, London, Frankfurt, Singapore, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. 

According to Jefferies, these courses aim to provide attendees with the skills required to become expert cryptocurrency financial investigators. He also noted that remote training events will be available each month.

Not a recruiting tool

While CipherTrace’s Defenders League may seem like a useful recruiting tool, Jefferies said that this was not a motivating factor for developing the program. Rather, he explained that training students is a way to give back to the blockchain community: 

“CipherTrace Cryptocurrency Intelligence has the information, but our team doesn’t have the time to investigate each case. This is an opportunity for CipherTrace to give back to the blockchain community by helping to remove the taint of illicit finance, dark markets and scammers from virtual assets.”

While this may be, senior lecturer in digital forensics at Middlesex University London, Sukhvinder Hara, noted that the training CipherTrace provides will enhance their employment opportunities, stating, “Being the only UK university with commercial crypto investigation software enhances our students’ employability, particularly as they can certify as CipherTrace Certified Examiners.”