European Authorities Arrest Six for €24m Bitcoin Theft, Money Laundering
26 Jun 2019

British and Dutch officials have arrested six individuals for their alleged roles in stealing €24 million in cryptocurrency from thousands of victims in a dozen countries.

The suspects—five men and one woman—were arrested Tuesday morning in the UK’s Lower Weston and Staverton and the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, according to Europol, Eurojust, the UK National Crime Agency and other law enforcement offices involved in the investigation.

The individuals stole bitcoins from at least 4,000 people by spoofing the website of a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange and gaining access to the crypto-wallets of its users who believed they were on logging into their accounts, they said. UK and Dutch authorities seized electronic devices, equipment and other “valuable assets” during the arrests, according to Eurojust.

The six suspects face potential money laundering charges and three of the individuals are suspected of violating laws against the misuse of computers, according to the UK South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWRCCU).

The unit identified possible suspects in the scheme in February 2018 and referred the case to the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce at Europol, according to a statement.

“The investigation has grown from a single report of £17,000 worth of Bitcoin stolen from a Wilshire-based victim to a current estimate of more than four thousand victims in at least 12 countries,” said SWRCCU Detective Inspector Louise Boyce, in a statement. “We expect that number to grow.”

Photo (cropped): AntanaCoins [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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