IRS to reward anyone who can break Monero with $625k

IRS to reward anyone who can break Monero with $625k

By Sam Grant - min read
Updated 11 June 2021
Image of a sign for the Internal Revenue Service

The US Internal Revenue Service has set a $625,000 reward to anyone who can break Monero (XMR)

The IRS has announced that it is offering a reward up to $625,000 to anyone who can crack reportedly untraceable crypto coins like Monero (XMR) and also mark out Lightning Network transactions.

The announcement was made public last week in a post published by the Department of the Treasury. The IRS is currently accepting proposals with the deadline set for September 16, at 08:00 EDT. If a submission is accepted, the applicant will be rewarded with a lump sum of $500,000.

This initial grant will facilitate the development of a working project from the prototype over a period of eight months, after which the project will be tested. Upon completion of the tests and approval by the government, the applicant will then receive a further $125,000.

The federal agency announcement highlights the initiative’s primary goal as assisting Criminal Investigation special agents in tracking and monitoring transactions.

The IRS aims to employ the tools to anticipate and figure out future transactions for addresses that have been flagged.

The final project should meet a few conditions to qualify for approval. For instance, they should provide Criminal Investigators full control, with additional options to modify or expand them. This will eliminate the need for the agency to depend on external vendors.

Monero is among the most used digital currencies by criminal organisations, as it is considered more secure compared to traceable crypto coins like Bitcoin. The revenue agency reported that Monero is being adopted to aid ransom demands by Sodinokibi — a ransomware group.

There has been a surge in demand for these coins by criminal groups, even as authorities improve their forensics abilities and bring on-board contractors, such as Chainalysis.

The blockchain analysis company has helped law enforcement trace Bitcoin and other crypto transactions to tackle crimes like terrorist financing, money laundering and child abuse. The company played a significant role in dismantling three terrorist organisations last month.

Forensics firm CipherTrace also reported it had built a new tool to trace XMR transactions. As of writing, however, the tool’s abilities haven’t been proved.