A London judge has signed a court order mandating the City police to forfeit hundreds of bitcoins owned by computer hacker Grant West, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year for carrying out cyber-attacks on some of Britain’s top companies.
The case involves nearly $1.1 million worth of bitcoin that should be confiscated in first crypto seizure by British police.
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West, 28, from Sheerness in Kent, pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy to commit fraud, computer misuse, and drug offenses after being arrested 2017 for sending phishing emails pretending to be from takeaway service Just East.
West’s two-and-a-half-year scam extracted the details of 63,000 credit and debit cards and netted him millions from the sale of stolen data on dark web sites. He sent customers scam emails masquerading offering a voucher in return for answering questions, the court said.
Regulators consider ban on cryptos
The court papers show West ran his scam from July 2015 to December 2015 until he was arrested in a train carriage while returning from a trip to visit his girlfriend and co-defendant, Rachael Brooks. A Southwark crown at his trial last year described West, who used the online identity “Courvoisier,” as “a one man cyber crime wave” and said he had “secreted away” some of £1.6 million worth of cryptocurrency he obtained from hacking the email addresses of more than 160,000 people.
Victims funds were moved into multiple shell companies and cryptocurrency exchanges undetected this way.
Cryptocurrencies have been one of the most popular forms of payment on dark markets because users don’t have to reveal their identities. With the surge in the use of bitcoin for illicit purposes, the UK financial watchdog recently revealed a significant increase in the number of queries regarding cryptocurrencies, the majority of which relate to scams. This increase in the number of complaints/queries is another indication of the popularity of the industry despite the bear market conditions in the reportable period of 2018.
The FCA is already considering a ban on retail derivatives of cryptocurrencies, including CFDs, futures and options, as part of the UK authorities’ sweeping push to regulate the virtual asset class.