After an investigation of 14 long months, 6 people have finally been apprehended for a case of massive bitcoin theft which involved a hefty amount of $27 million. According to the report, the operation was a part of a joint operation being carried out by UK’s South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit in collaboration with the Dutch police (Politie), Europol, Eurojust and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
After the successful operation, warrants were issued for 6 individuals, one woman, and 5 men who were all arrested at their homes simultaneously. These individuals are said to be involved in thefts that affected around 4000 people from 12 different countries. The accused used a technique called typosquatting to lure people into sending them money in cryptocurrency, mostly bitcoin.
Typosquatting is a technique used to fool people who mistakenly mistype the name of the original website to a similar looking name. For example, Google users can be typosquatted into a website named Gooogle or Goolge by merely mistyping the name. Exchanges were mimicked using this technique and people were fooled into giving up their login details, from where they lost huge amounts of bitcoins as mentioned above.
As the criminals were geographically spread across UK and Netherlands, properly organized meetings between the British and Dutch authorities were conducted at Europol headquarters. Here the action day was decided and all the intel relating to the individuals was shared.
Although the officials and cyber crime agencies worldwide are doing a great job in catching such criminals, the recent booming activity of malware, ransomware, and evolving phishing techniques should alarm the crypto space.
Not only exchanges but prominent people around the globe are also being mimicked by false accounts on social media where they ask their followers to send cryptocurrency in exchange for a larger sum of money.
John McAfee, the US presidential candidate and a crypto influencer, was recently found agitated on twitter by the number of scammers who were trying to get money using his and Elon Musk‘s name. He tweeted:
Please People: no-one gives anything away for free. Elon Musk and myself have been heavily targeted by scammers pretending to be one of us. If you see a tweet from me or from Elon promising to give shit away to total strangers — use your head. Neither of us are that stupid. pic.twitter.com/odsVoxtXRa
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) June 25, 2019
The Bitcoin bull still supports the crypto space heavily and has his hopes high regarding legislation. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, also faced a similar scam scheme a while back when he was also furious on the scammers who were trying to strip people of their money and defame Vitalik. He even changed his name to “Vitalik Non-Giver of Ether” and tweeted multiple times:
No, I’m not giving away ETH.
— Vitalik Non-giver of Ether (@VitalikButerin) March 4, 2018
A few days ago, Israeli brothers mimicking exchanges to trick people into sending them bitcoin were also apprehended. The booming crypto market might have given the hackers a boost of confidence for tricking people but the officials responsible for catching these cybercriminals are also doing great jobs.
Individual awareness might help the cause more in this case. People should be aware of where they are sending their money and whether the exchange or person is trustworthy. The Section Chief of the FBI’s Financial Crimes Section within the Criminal Investigative Division, Steven M. D’Antuono issued warning to bitcoin & crypto investors to be cautious before investing in a new project. He stated:
“While the FBI and other law enforcement and regulatory agencies are actively trying to eliminate the scams and bring the scammers to justice, there seems to be a lucrative market for the scammers, meaning they continue to appear. Perhaps our best tool in mitigating fraudulent offerings is getting information out to the public that they need to be careful prior to investing in these projects.”