CFTC says most whistleblower tips in 2023 involved crypto

Quick Take

  • Whistleblowers, who tip the agency to financial crimes, have submitted a total of 1,530 tips in 2023 — the highest of any year, CFTC Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero said on Tuesday. 

The majority of tips coming from whistleblowers to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission this year involved cryptocurrency.

Tipsters, who alert the agency about possible financial crimes, have submitted a total of 1,530 leads this year — the highest annual amount ever, CFTC Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero said in a statement on Tuesday. 

"The majority of the tips received this year involved crypto — an area that continues to have pervasive fraud and other illegality," the commissioner said. 

"With the rise of crypto, more retail customers have come under the CFTC's jurisdiction, making even more critical the efforts of the CFTC's Whistleblower Program and the Office of Customer Education and Outreach," Romero added. 

Whistleblowers save the CFTC resources and time, Romero said.

"The faster we can stop fraud, the more we can protect customers from harm," the commissioner said.

The CFTC has brought a number of enforcement actions against crypto firms and people over the past fiscal year including Voyager co-founder Stephen Ehrlich for fraud. The agency has also focused its efforts on DeFi and said it settled charges against Opyn, ZeroEx, and Deridex over registration violations last month. 


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Crypto-related tips

Crypto-related tips this year involved allegations about pump-and-dump schemes, false representations of money making opportunities and refusing to honor withdrawal requests, the agency said in its fiscal year 2023 report. 

"The volume of tips relating to both crypto/digital asset schemes and romance scams continued to be high," according to the report. "These schemes generally start with a text from a 'wrong number' or through social media contacts and result in the victim losing large sums of money to his/her romantic interest."

In fiscal year 2023, the agency awarded $16 million to people who provided information voluntarily that then led to "successful enforcement actions." Two whistleblowers were awarded $15 million, the majority of awards given out, which Romero said led the agency to bring multiple enforcement cases. 

The report covered Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2023.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.


About Author

Sarah is a reporter at The Block covering policy, regulation and legal happenings. Before, Sarah was a reporter with CQ Legal writing about securities regulation, which is where she first started reporting on crypto. Sarah has also written for The Bond Buyer and American Banker, among other finance-related publications. She graduated from the University of Missouri and earned a degree in print and digital journalism. Sarah is based in Washington D.C., and is an avid coffee lover. You can follow her on Twitter @ForTheWynn.


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