Lilita Infante spent 10 years as a special agent with the Department of Justice, where she created the first-ever federal task force focused on cryptocurrency and took down illicit networks ranging from dark web marketplaces to crimes against children.
Three months ago, she decided to leave the government and create CAT Labs, a forensic and cybersecurity startup focused on digital asset recovery. After building the company in stealth, CAT Labs announced its launch today with $4.3 million in funding from investors including Castle Island Ventures, Brevan Howard Digital, CMT Digital, RW3 Ventures, and Newark Venture Partners.
“Crypto has made it very easy to monetize hacks, scams, and fraud,” Infante told Fortune in an interview. “There are still many technological gaps in investigative technology in law enforcement that creates a huge backlog of cases that basically prevents law enforcement from being able to effectively target these cases.”
Courtesy of Lilita Infante
Infante first learned about Bitcoin in 2012 from an episode of The Good Wife. She had graduated into the recession with a degree in economics and, after having difficulty finding a job, understood the appeal of the disruptor technology.
After joining the DOJ in 2012 and starting in money laundering enforcement, she was able to slowly convince her colleagues that Bitcoin would become a major vector, later volunteering to work on the first crypto-related dark web cases. During her time leading the crypto task force, she worked on some of the government’s major takedowns of criminal networks, including Hydra, a marketplace that accounted for about 80% of all dark web crypto transactions.
Infante realized that cryptocurrency asset recovery was an area for growth and decided to create her own company.
“I thought this was an opportunity of a lifetime for me to leave and actually build these tools,” she said.
CAT Labs, which is launching with eight full-time employees and five contractors, has two verticals. The first is tailored toward government clients to help them recover cryptocurrency assets from digital evidence, such as from hackers’ computers or phones. The second is crypto-focused cybersecurity for the private sector to prevent digital asset theft and secure their infrastructure architecture.
Current solutions like the data software Chainalysis are centered around on-chain solutions, whereas CAT Labs will combine those tools with bespoke off-chain recovery. Infante described them as complementary services, where CAT Labs will integrate different tools into its broader suite. Other members of the founding team include Uri Stav, the former chief security and development officer of the Digital Currency Group, and John Hays, the former DOJ lead in forensic digital asset recovery.
One early client for CAT Labs has been Rand Labs, the blockchain development firm focused on Algorand. CAT Labs was part of the incident response team for the $9.2 million exploit of the Algorand wallet provider MyAlgo in late February.