In a recent case involving fraudulent online activity, the London Metropolitan police conducted Scotland Yard’s first cryptocurrency seizure, a confiscation totaling USD 700,000 in Bitcoin.
As reported by USA Today, the perpetrator, 25-year-old Grant West, pleaded guilty in court December last year to conducting cyber attacks on fast-food outlets, gambling shops, supermarkets, and mobile phone companies. Investigators working on the case claim that he was responsible for cyber attacks on over 100 companies between July and December 2015.
Often, West’s criminal activities played out via phishing emails that lured suspects into sharing their personal and banking information with him.
West, who went by the online pseudonym ‘Courvoisier‘,’ reportedly used the dark web to sell passwords and credit card numbers that he acquired through the hacks. His proceeds from the illegal sales were converted into Bitcoin.
The arrest of West was made on a train by British police. Law enforcement was able to access his online cryptocurrency wallets through discovering their passwords on the unlocked laptop he was using at the time of his arrest. The funds were successfully sequestered.
A British court said Wednesday that West’s sentence would be given on 25 May. The trial also found his girlfriend, Rachael Brooke, an accomplice to the crimes. While she was sentenced to just two years of community service, it is expected West’s sentence to be far more severe.
Criminal activity and crypto
Speaking out on incidents involving online fraud, police investigator Mick Gallagher noted what he found a critical element to West’s arrest: ”These people generally feel they can operate with impunity, that they can’t be touched. We have now debunked that.”
Some criminals believe that Bitcoin can offer them full anonymity, but investigators are frequently able to track the movement of cryptocurrencies. Even if they cannot identify the owner through the transactions themselves, tracking a publicly available trail of transactions on the blockchain may eventually lead them to the perpetrator.
While it may seem like this incident is more bad press for cryptocurrencies, less than 1% of Bitcoin transactions actually involve illicit activities. Indeed, it is valuable for cryptocurrency traders to know that should any fraudulent activity be pursued against them, the police are becoming more equipped to deal with these situations and protect peoples’ online funds.
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