CFTC pays whistleblowers $16M this year for mostly crypto tips

The United States commodities regulator has paid $16 million this year to whistleblowers who gave information leading to successful enforcement actions with a majority of the tips involving crypto.

In an Oct. 31 statement, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero said most of the tips received this year involved crypto which she claimed was “an area that continues to have pervasive fraud and other illegality.”

Two whistleblowers received $15 million alone for their information which led the CFTC to successful enforcement cases in September — however, the regulator didn’t delve into the nature of those cases in its statement at the time.

Romero said whistleblowers are vital to mitigate commodities fraud and that the CFTC wouldn’t be able to “fully protect” customers and markets without them:

“Whistleblowers help identify fraud and other illegality, interpret key evidence, and save considerable Commission resources and time. The faster we can stop fraud, the more we can protect customers from harm.”

Romero acknowledged the efforts of CFTC’s Office of Customer Education and Outreach which teaches people to spot, avoid and report cryptocurrency fraud.

“With the rise of crypto, more retail customers have come under the CFTC’s jurisdiction,” Romero said.

Related: CFTC issues $54M default judgment against trader in crypto fraud scheme

The CFTC has doled out almost $350 million since the program started in 2014. It’s led to over $3 billion in enforcement sanctions ordered in cases tipped off by whistleblowers.

The CFTC won a record $3.4 billion penalty payment in a Bitcoin-related fraud case in April and won its case against Digitex CEO Adam Todd in July who was ordered to pay $16 million in penalties.

In April, Romero iterated that managing the risks associated with cryptocurrency would be crucial to upholding market integrity, national security and financial stability.

She’s advocated integrating stronger identity verification measures saying it would minimize illicit finance in the cryptocurrency market.

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