According to the author, most of the agents and prosecutors involved in the hunt for crypto kings have since left their agencies and taken jobs in the cryptocurrency industry. I’m not sure what else I can say about this story. Greed. No, sorry, world class greed, the dark web and the intoxicating lure of untraceable money. But is it really? That is the moral from Andy Greenberg’s beauty of a book “Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency.” You and I can’t win. This game is played for billions and unless you know where the bodies, or coins, are buried you are out of luck.
As the world knows now, the crypto circus is the wild west of unregulated, uncontrolled financial chaos. But at the bottom of this circus lives an idea worth investigating. What would the world look like with an alternative form of finance beyond the reaches of the normal, corrupt financial system that most of us have to play in? I’m not sure we will ever know because the main players in the dark web crypto world are dropping like flies. Remember Silk Road? How about AlphaBay? By now the list will be much longer and much more sordid. For those of you thinking the worst of the dark web is someone using Bitcoin to buy dope just know there is a level of darkness far darker than this.
The darknet isn’t going anywhere and it won’t go entirely legit anytime soon. So, the next question we have to ask is how far do we go when it comes to regulation, investigation or full-on surveillance? Just as the illegal sites are booming others are inventing companies and ways to pierce the darknet veil. How much investigative power to they get? When does that power cross the line? Should we ask Snowden? Does the American public care or are they consumed by Instagram? (I heard a photographer describing how his entire focus was on Instagram and how he can’t photograph certain places because he’s already seen the work on Instagram, and my only thought was “What a miserable existence you have.”)
Greenberg should be writing spy novels on the side. His books read like Jason Bourne, Ralph Gibson and Alex Gibney rolled into one. I love his pace and short chapters, each ending with a dangling participle of intrigue/drama/. Throw in locations like Thailand, Tokyo, and the Paris of the Central Valley; Fresno, and well, the real question is how can you NOT read this book. If you are waiting for someone from the financial world, or the crypto world, to come and do the right thing you are going to be waiting for the rest of your life. There is no money in doing the right thing, at least not at this point. In the meantime, encrypt your coms, don’t go on social, leave your phone at home and light some candles while rubbing your rabbit’s foot.