Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. Although the majority of crypto transactions are legitimate, many are also fraudulent. Criminals take advantage of the anonymous and international nature of digital currencies. These crimes often include Money Laundering, Terrorism, Tax Fraud, and Drug Trafficking.
Security continues to remain a heavily debated topic in the crypto space. Recently, security agencies of the world have had to increase their efforts in tracking down cryptocurrency scams. The UK has not been left out of this as British agencies have been clamping down on these illegal activities.
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The UK police have recently been active in seizing cryptocurrencies. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty said some criminals have moved “to more sophisticated methods” to launder money, such as using cryptocurrencies.
UK Police Seize Ethereum In USB Stick
The UK police have recently seized crypto worth $22.25 million from operators of an international cryptocurrency scam. This includes Ethereum worth $9.5 million found in a USB stick. The police announced on their website, “A sum of $22.25 million (equivalent to just over £16 million) was seized by specialist officers from Greater Manchester Police’s Economic Crime Unit after intelligence led to the discovery of USB sticks containing huge amounts of Ethereum”
The Victims of this scam are based in the UK, United States, Europe, China, Australia, and Hong Kong. They deposited money into what they thought was an online saving and trading service using Binance Smart Chain, which stores and records transactions made in crypto-currency, confirming their movement and value. “Crypto-currency saving and trading services are becoming increasingly popular, with projects offering incentives to people to invest significant amounts of money, offering tokens that can then be sold for a profit” the Greater Manchester Police stated.
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The scammers waited until a significant amount of money had been deposited, before shutting down their website. They then transferred the funds into their accounts, hoping to disappear without a trace. Unfortunately for them, specialist officers received intelligence that those running the scheme had been in Manchester for a limited time. They tracked the criminals down and recovered the stolen Ethereum. The police are now attempting to contact victims of this scam and return their funds. The scammers: a 23-year-old male and a 25-year-old female, have since been released under investigation.
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According to the police, they found a further $12.7million a few days later after locating a Cryptograph safety deposit box. They also found the code to access it. “The sum totaled 90% of the cryptocurrency stolen, and work has now begun on re-uniting it with the rightful owners, some of whom are still unknown and located across the world”.
Other Recent Crypto Scam Investigations
In July, UK detectives announce that they confiscated £180 million in crypto as part of a money-laundering investigation. The police did not specify how they seized the crypto or what kind of coins they were. The suspect was a 39-year-old woman arrested on 24 June who was later released on bail.
Before this incident, the Metropolitan police announced one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency seizures as of then. The seizure, worth £114million, was carried out by detectives from the Met’s Economic Crime Command on the back of intelligence received about the transfer of criminal assets.
In a press release published on July 13, Detective Constable Joe Ryan said: “Less than a month ago we successfully seized £114million in cryptocurrency. Our investigation since then has been complex and wide-ranging. We have worked hard to trace this money and identify the criminality it may be linked to. Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the center of this suspected money laundering operation.”
Featured image from CNBC, chart from TradingView.com