Bitcoin frauds and scams are extremely common since the inception of the world’s first cryptocurrency. However, this time, a hacker couldn’t get away without compensating for the damages. Grant West who is also known as ‘one-man cybercrime wave’ has agreed to comply with the judge’s order. Following the proceedings in Southwark crown court, the judge has ordered to confiscate bitcoin, possessed by the hacker.
It was estimated that bitcoin of worth more than £900,000 will be confiscated and given back to the victims. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the case was decided by the judge, Joanna Korner QC. She straightforwardly asked West to either face a 4 year time in prison or let the authorities confiscate his bitcoin.
Although the Metropolitan Police had possession of 82 bitcoin belonging to West, it was necessary for them to sell the digital asset only after West’s confession. It was legally mandatory for West to show his intentions of selling in words. Apart from bitcoin, the police also got hold on other digital assets like Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash owned by West.
West, who uses online identity ‘Courvoisier’, was arrested a few months ago while he was traveling on a train. He was traced and arrested by officers on the first carrier of the train that was heading from Rhyl to London. As he was using his laptop along the journey, the officers were successful to seize his unlocked laptop.
He used the laptop that belonged to his girlfriend for scamming activities and despite trying his best to veil his identity, he couldn’t protect himself. Ultimately, the police captured West by tracing a series of IP addresses.
Following the seizure, officers were able to discover important information regarding West. It was revealed that he had been practicing fraudulent practices for more than 2 years. While doing so, he was able to deceive customers of more than 100 companies that even included Uber, Asda, bookmakers, Ladbrokes, Sainsbury’s, Coral, etc.
He is said to utilize the dark web for selling important personal information belonging to different people. According to the findings, West was having the data of around 7 million users with usernames and passwords. In addition to that, he also stored debit and credit card details of about 63,000 people on a SD card.
Currently, it is estimated that the data of 9,627 people got leaked due to West and consequently, people had to face various losses as their data was used by other fraudsters. Once West got rewarded for his contributions, he converted the money in bitcoin before storing at multiple places.
Apart from trading on the dark web, West also sold cannabis. He was believed to run Just Eat phishing scams, where he tried to extract user’s information. Usually, he tricked them through promises of voucher awards. However, the company, Just Eat, claims that West’s efforts weren’t fruitful as users data wasn’t compromised.
In addition to numerous crimes committed by West, his girlfriend Rachael Brookes, was also found guilty on a few occasions. She was accused of buying a bikini through the stolen credit card credentials of a user. But unlike West, she wasn’t given jail time and prescribed to a community order.
The entire investigation was carried under Detective Chief Superintendent, Michael Gallagher. While sharing his vision to unveil the bad actors along with their activities on the dark web like West, he was confident in undermining anonymity provided by the cryptos. He said:
There was a myth that Bitcoin in particular, and crypto-currencies more generally, was anonymous and it was also a myth that people can operate with impunity on the dark web and remain anonymous.
Unlike past scams and hacks that used bitcoin, this time, the hacker was not successful in bagging up the looted digital assets. Instead, he was captured by the police and somehow compelled to return the damages.
Against all odds, it is very rare that a scammer compensated the loss to his victims with his crypto assets. There’s no doubt that bitcoin has been famous among scammers for a long time. Only future holds the key if the authorities will really able to penetrate the dark web and expose the bad actors.