The United States Secret Service has finally shed more light on its bizarre nonfungible token (NFT) collection sitting on OpenSea.
The NFT collection was first revealed during a Reddit AMA on May 16, where agents answered questions from members of the r/cryptocurrency subreddit about their involvement in crypto and blockchain tech. Until this time, not much of an explanation was provided about the NFT collection or why it exists.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, agents from the Secret Service’s San-Francisco field office, known as the “Digital Asset Technology Alliance” (DATA) Squad, said they wanted to better understand how NFTs worked.
Forensic financial analyst Andrew Frey, the agent who spearheaded the Reddit AMA, said it also serves as a forward-facing example of the agency’s interest in the broader crypto ecosystem.
The DATA squad is a subunit of the Secret Service San Francisco Field Office, which deals specifically with crypto-related crimes.
Special Agent Alfonso Speed said that everyone from the DATA squad had their own unique NFT, each one being specifically personalized to each field agent.
“Everyone who owns an NFT had the opportunity to submit where they wanted themselves to be represented across Northern California, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area.”
The team shared a laugh as Special Agent in Charge Shawn Bradstreet pointed out that Speed was depicted standing on top of the notorious prison Alcatraz.
“You really do see people’s personalities or things that they enjoy doing,” Speed said.
While some of the NFTs have received multiple offers, ranging from 0.0028 ETH ($5) to around the 0.02 ETH ($37), none of which have been accepted.
The agents said NFTs were never created to be offered for sale. Overall, the agents on the DATA taskforce take a positive approach to crypto, with many of them owning crypto and NFTs in a personal capacity.
Frey shares that while the NFT collection was a fun and creative outlet for the team, it also stands as a serious symbol of their involvement in and dedication to the broader crypto landscape.
“Overwhelmingly, there is a ‘not wrong’ belief that law enforcement doesn’t know what they’re doing in the crypto space,” said Frey. “I think that our NFTs are a neat way to show that we do have a seat at the table and that we’re really invested in crypto and the investigation of digital assets.”
Frey reiterated that the NFT collection was also made to highlight the agency’s accessibility and to make them more approachable by the public, and particularly, crypto enthusiasts.
“The spirit behind them is public education,” said supervisory Special Agent Ryan Cole.
Being able to interact directly with members of the crypto community by way of social media platforms such as Reddit has proven essential to solving crimes and returning funds to victims in the past, Frey added.
“It was through those interactions that we learned that there was this whole community that was kind of griping and warning about all these different types of scams,” Frey said. “The cases that we see most of are specifically victim-based crimes and one of the main goals of our investigative work is to make these victims whole again.”
The Secret Service is tasked with two main directives: protecting key political leaders and safeguarding the financial and critical infrastructure of the U.S.