Lawyers told how to achieve the initiation of a criminal case in Russia in case of loss of digital assets as a result of theft
In 2021, the law "On digital financial assets" came into force in Russia. It defines cryptocurrency and prohibits its use to pay for goods and services. However, many issues are still not resolved, and users are not protected from a legal point of view.
Law enforcement agencies do not always initiate criminal cases based on the statements of victims, said Mikhail Tretyak, partner, head of the IP / IT practice of the law firm Digital Rights Center. He explained that the overwhelming majority of employees of the authorities do not have the skills and competencies necessary to conduct a full-fledged investigation of crimes related to cryptocurrencies. It is for this reason that there are still more refusals to initiate cases than initiated criminal cases, the expert emphasized.
However, in order for law enforcement agencies to be able to investigate the case as quickly as possible if it is initiated, it is necessary to observe several important rules. Tretiak listed the main ones:
- Collect all evidence of the movement of your funds in cryptocurrency – especially those in respect of which there is a suspicion that the transactions were not carried out by you. Make regular uploads of statements from crypto-exchanges and screenshots of cryptocurrency transactions;
- Try not to download API keys to mobile devices, as they are the most vulnerable;
- Try to track the movement of funds yourself using the available tools. The most famous and effective solutions are CipherTrace, Crystal, Elliptic, Chainalysis, Etherscan;
- If theft is detected, immediately contact the support service of the exchange or other service on which the cryptocurrency was stored;
- Seek professional legal assistance from lawyers who deal with interaction with law enforcement agencies on such issues, because it will be difficult for an unprepared person to communicate with police officers on his own;
- Submit to the police – preferably with the help of lawyers – a statement under Art. 159.6 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (fraud in the field of computer information).
Cryptocurrency is the same property of Russian citizens as other digital values, added Moscow Digital School expert Efim Kazantsev. Cryptocurrency falls under the definition of property and in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation and the clarifications of the Plenum of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the application of criminal law, said Yuri Brisov, a member of the Commission on the Legal Support of the Digital Economy of the Moscow Branch of the Russian Lawyers' Association.
According to Kazantsev, there have already been cases in Russian law enforcement practice when the police found the thieves of the cryptocurrency. However, in most cases, it was still about fairly simple cases, when it was not difficult to find the attacker. If the cryptocurrency is stolen by sufficiently qualified hackers, it will be very difficult for the police to find them, the specialist warned.