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Agents on Computer

Our Investigative Mission

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The U.S. Secret Service has a long and storied history of safeguarding America’s financial and payment systems from criminal exploitation. The agency was created in 1865 to combat the rise of counterfeit currency following the Civil War. As the U.S. financial system has evolved - from paper currency to plastic credit cards to, now, digital information - so too have our investigative responsibilities. 

Today, Secret Service agents, professionals, and specialists work in field offices around the world to fight the 21st century’s financial crimes, which are increasingly conducted through cyberspace. These investigations continue to address counterfeit, which still undermines confidence in the U.S. dollar, but it is credit card fraud, wire and bank fraud, computer network breaches, ransomware, and other cyber-enabled financial crimes, that have become the focus of much of the Secret Service investigative work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Types of Crimes We Investigate

Unauthorized access to computers or networks, using malware, compromised access credentials, phishing, or similar methods. Network intrusions are typically performed to gain access to systems and exfiltrate sensitive information to exploit for financial gain. Network intrusions are also used to block access to computers, networks, or critical infrastructure until a ransom is paid. Ransoms are typically demanded in cryptocurrency.  

Counterfeiting of United States currency, bonds, checks, and other financial obligations and securities. Distributing or passing of counterfeited, forged, or altered U.S. currency and other financial obligations and securities. Criminals sometimes use online forums to sell bulk counterfeited U.S. or foreign currency.

Financial transactions that attempt to disguise the proceeds or nature of financial crimes, cyber fraud, or other illegal activities. Specialized criminal organizations may offer money laundering as a service to other criminals. Money laundering organizations sometimes use networks of witting and unwitting money mules, who become part of the process to disguise the flow of money. Money laundering often includes mixing traditional currencies and cryptocurrencies.

Unauthorized access to payment card processing terminals or cashier systems that facilitate electronic transactions for goods or services. These compromises typically focus on exfiltrating payment card data for exploitation of sensitive information for financial gain or resale to other criminals.

Fraud involving the use of payment cards, to include debit and credit cards, or other devices that enable electronic funds transfers. Relevant activities include ATM cashouts, skimming, and similar criminal exploitation of payment systems. Access device fraud also includes exploitation of public assistance programs, such as Electronic Benefits Transfers (EBTs).

Compromised networks or computer systems, typically large-scale, under the control of a cybercrime organization. Botnets may be used by criminal organizations to exploit the compromised host machines with an intent to steal sensitive banking information or register criminal accounts.

The theft and unauthorized use of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This includes criminals utilizing other people’s identities for credit card and bank fraud, or other financial gain. Criminals also steal PII by compromising networks and exfiltrating sensitive information in bulk, which is then used or resold to other criminals for financial exploitation.

Unauthorized bank transfers to criminal accounts via means such as social engineering and phishing techniques. Criminals may deceive employees responsible for payments by impersonating executives or vendor representatives, who unwittingly transfer the funds to the criminals.

Crimes using social engineering and deception to entice or extort victims for financial gain. Enticement includes romance and investment schemes, while extortion involves threats to expose a victim, such as sexually compromising information.

Online exploitation of content involving children by sexual predators and other criminals for financial gain.

 

Cyber Crime - Hard Drive

Financial and Cyber Crime Investigations

USSS Stars

Our primary investigative mission is to protect the financial infrastructure of the United States by investigating complex, often cyber-enabled financial crimes. 

Counterfeit Investigations

USSS Stars

The threat of counterfeit U.S. currency to the financial system of the United States continues to evolve. 

The threat of counterfeit U.S. currency continues to evolve.
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Forensic Expertise

USSS Stars

We are home to expert forensic analysts who employ advanced investigative and technological capabilities in support of the Secret Service integrated mission and law enforcement partners.

Protective Threat Investigations

USSS Stars

The digital expertise we gain from our investigative mission plays an increasingly important role within our protective mission, ensuring that leaders, facilities, and events are secure from cybersecurity and other threats.

Our protective mission starts well before any special agent is physically present on a security detail.
We are a key supporter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), employing the range of our investigative expertise to assist in protecting children by Congressional mandate since 1994.

Support for National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

USSS Stars

We are a key supporter of NCMEC, employing the range of our investigative expertise to assist in protecting children by Congressional mandate since 1994.

 

 

Impact of Our Investigations


For Fiscal Year 2022

2.6B

 

Loss prevented by cyber financial crime investigations

893

 

Number of cyber financial crime arrests

214M

 

Illicit assets forfeited

Resources

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Strategy FY 2021 - 2027