Japanese Police Arrest 30 Suspects, Allegedly Involved in 2018’s $530M Coincheck Hack

Japanese Police Arrest 30 Suspects, Allegedly Involved in 2018’s $530M Coincheck Hack

Japanese police have made progress on the Coincheck hack investigations, having recently identified 30 individuals that might have been involved. According to Nikkei Asia, which broke the news, the authorities have arrested some of the alleged hack suspects or referred their cases to the local prosecutors’ office.

The hack which took place back in 2018 is still the largest in crypto history; around 58 billion yen ($530 million) worth of NEM tokens was siphoned from the exchange. Since then, Japanese authorities have been working to catch the Coincheck hackers.

Notably, Coincheck had already released the associated addresses where the stolen NEM tokens were drained. This prompted them to be blacklisted and consequently labeled ‘coincheck_stolen_funds_do_not_accept_trades: owner_of_this_account_is_hacker.’

Last year, the authorities arrested two individuals named Masaki Kitamoto and Takayoshi Doi, who acquired the stolen NEM tokens at a 15% discount via the dark web. The two found themselves in trouble for purchasing the tokens despite being aware of their origin.

It now seems that the Japanese police have narrowed down further given the recent arrests and prosecution referrals. Per Nikkei’s report, investigators were able to trace the 30 individuals by tracking ‘the accounts at conventional cryptocurrency exchanges through which the hacked NEM was converted.’

Sources close to the matter revealed that the transactions in question could total around 20 billion yen, although they are yet to pinpoint the exact parties responsible for the hack. Before this development, the narrative has been Russian hackers suspected of having compromised Coincheck employees’ computers.

On the bright side, Coincheck survived following an acquisition by Monex Group. The crypto exchange is set to host Japan’s first Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) for a project dubbed ‘Hash Palette’; this initiative targets to raise roughly 1 billion Yen ($9.4 million).

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Author: Edwin Munyui

German Police Shut Down Dark Market that Facilitated $170M in Crypto Transactions

German Police Shut Down Dark Market that Facilitated $170 Million in Cryptocurrency Transactions

In the latest crackdown on the Darknet marketplace, German police arrested a 34-year-old Australian national near the Danish border who allegedly operated DarkMarket, a site used by half a million people.

According to the prosecutors in the western German city of Koblenz, DarkMarket facilitated at least 320,000 transactions that include 4,650 for Bitcoin (BTC), 12,800 for Monero (XMR), and another cryptocurrency, totaling more than 140 million euros ($170 million).

More than 20 servers were also confiscated in Moldova and Ukraine by the authorities.

The platform was used to sell drugs along with counterfeit money, stolen and fraudulent credit card information, anonymous SIM cards, and malware offerings.

Authorities from around the world contributed to this investigation — from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to the EU’s Europol and police from the U.K., Denmark, and Ukraine.

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Author: AnTy

FUD of the Week: China and US Treasury Unsuccessful in Attacking Bitcoin

This week as we reported, China Police seized more than $4.2 billion worth of the crypto asset from the PulsToken Ponzi scheme.

However, it was the officials informing the public, as the crypto market has known all along, about how and where these funds have been moving thanks to the transparency of the blockchain technology.

Researcher Ergo has been updating the community about the sale of these tokens over the years, which peaked in mid-2019. Only about 15k of the BTC are left of the original 201k BTC now.

What is really interesting about China’s latest summary is that the authorities might be the ones involved in the sale of crypto assets all this time.

“Chen Bo, the mastermind of PlusToken (arrested in June 2019), was entrusted with selling PlusToken’s BTC, via a third party business, on behalf of the CCP?” commented ErgoBTC adding, “In return, he only gets 8 years in the gulag for architecting a multi-billion $ Ponzi? What kind of communism is this?”

The good news about this all is the market won’t be getting smashed as most of the Bitcoin has already been dumped into the open market through OKEx and Huobi. It was this sale-off at that time in mid-2019 that sent BTC crashing from $14k to $6k in six months.

There isn’t really anything left to send to China’s national treasury as they already sold most of it all. However, the same can’t be said of ETH and other altcoins, including LTC, EOS, DASH, XRP, DOGE, BCH, and USDT.

“Most importantly, this can be seen as the first government attack toward Bitcoin via liquidity games and price manipulation. IT FAILED,” said market analyst David Puell.

The price of cryptocurrencies had already taken a big drop before this news hit the market, sending BTC to nearly $16,300. Today, the crypto market is actually green.

Besides, over-leverage and BTC already rallying 85% in less than two months being the reason for the crash, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong spreading the U.S. Treasury FUD is another one.

While “false, it should be taken seriously,” said Puell.

Regulating self-custodied wallets is already forced upon exchanges in countries like Switzerland, Singapore, and the Netherlands.

While the crypto community continues to oppose these regulations, more rules and laws are expected, which means “privacy and ownership, even more so than price, will be the most contested subjects in Bitcoin in the next few years.”

The implication of this in the US on the price of Bitcoin in the long term, however, isn’t expected to change anything.

“The fundamentals remain the same, so in my view, even if we continue correcting ($14k, 12k, or whatever), the cause would be simply out of major market actors taking profits with the aim to buy cheaper,” Puell said.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Era Scam: Colombian Police Issue Warning After President Appears to Endorse Bitcoin

Police in Colombia has issued a warning about a fraudulent bitcoin investment opportunity. The scam targets social media users, convincing them that Colombian President Ivan Duque endorsed a bitcoin-related money making system.

The Spanish-language scam website “announces” the news, claiming that Duque approves the investment system and officially endorses bitcoin. It’s designed to look like a genuine news announcement.

According to the page, Duque not only endorses the scam: he claims the investment deal will relieve the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a photo at the top of the scam page, Duque is handing a package to a guard. The image seems to suggest Duque is handing a package of coronavirus relief money to the guard.

The sales page adds that the investment opportunity signed by Duque is “the largest deal of the century for Colombia”:

“Colombian business magnate, philanthropist, investor, and president of Colombia, has signed the largest deal of the century for Colombia. Taking a big step towards technology, the government of Colombia approved this agreement, and that is what it has been working to change the economy and the monetary system of Colombia while the alert state for the virus lasts.”

The Bitcoin Era platform purportedly allows citizens of Colombia to start generating income via cryptocurrency. Using an “algorithm,” the website will “take money” from the world’s billionaires and distribute it among the rest:

“Based on these trade exchanges, the system operates automatically on its own to produce an 80% profit rate…Bitcoin Era is an algorithm designed to take money from the richest people in the world and redistribute it among the common people of Colombia. This algorithm literally outperforms the stock market with an accuracy of 80%, which means that you will win 8 out of 10 transactions.”

Because the scam has spread across Colombian social media, police were forced to issue a warning on September 2.

The Bitcoin Era Scam Investment Opportunity

Colombia Check quotes a statement from the Cybernetic Police Center describing how the scam works. The post explains a bitcoin investment opportunity related to a platform called Bitcoin Era. The company is preparing to launch the platform, and investors who send money to the company today can “generate incomes via cryptocurrencies” as the platform launches.

The Bitcoin Era sales page contains other apparent signs of a scam, including an interview with Bitcoin Era’s CEO “Diego Garcia,” who explains how the bitcoin investment system works. The interview was copied and pasted from a similar scam from 2019 called Crypto Genius.

Others have noticed that another photo on the page is a shot of YouTuber and voice actor Pete Acceturo. Another image labeled as “Jose Ruiz,” who is a Mexican student named Adan Cortes, who rose to fame after breaking into Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

To be clear, the president of Colombia has not endorsed Bitcoin Era or any other bitcoin investment opportunity.

We’ve seen scams like this across the crypto space. Scams take a famous person, claim that person has endorsed the scam, and promote the page across social media. We saw it earlier this year with British TV presenter and former X-Factor star Rylan Clark-Neal. They appeared to claim he made “millions from bitcoin” with a unique investment opportunity. The star was later forced to tweet a warning about the scam.

Other notable names used in bitcoin scams include Hugh Jackman, Gordon Ramsay, and Martin Lewis, all of which sued Facebook after scammers used their likenesses in a bitcoin hoax and spread the campaign across Facebook.

Bitcoin has become increasingly popular in Colombia over the past few years. Although it’s not as popular as in neighboring Venezuela, Colombia has dozens of crypto ATMs and several popular online crypto exchanges. Colombia has also built a legal framework for crypto businesses, including crypto exchanges seeking to operate legally in the country.

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Author: Andrew Tuts

No More Selling Pressure from $5.7B PlusToken Ponzi as Chinese Police Arrest 82 Members

Chinese police have finally arrested all 27 primary suspects involved in the Plus Token Ponzi scheme.

The investigation led by the Ministry of Public Security successfully arrested all the major suspects and 82 key members of the case, reported Chinese financial news outlet CLS.

The Multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme has reportedly grown to 3,000 layers in the past year, frauding more than 2 million people for a whopping over 40 billion yuan, about $5.7 billion.

A year back in August, Chinese police officials arrested six suspects involved in this scheme, but the main suspects were still on the run at that time.

With this Ponzi scheme, the Chinese police have cracked down on one of the biggest Ponzi Schemes involving bitcoin as an exchange method.

PlusToken was launched in early 2018 and then in mid-2019 when some users couldn’t withdraw their funds from the wallets; it solidified the earlier suspicions of it being a pyramid scheme although the company tried to brush it off as a “hacker attack.”

Over these months, PlusToken has been a red sword hanging on bitcoin’s price’s head as time, and again the stolen funds were moved. Just last month, its entire Ether stash, about 790,000 ETH, was moved, spreading a wave of terror that it may cause Ethereum price to dump.

Given that bitcoin bulls now have “little to no baggage,” Dovey Wan, founding partner of Primitive Crypto, said, “let’s send it to the moon.”

The leading cryptocurrency is currently trading just over $11,000 after breaking key levels $10,000 and $10,500 this week.

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Author: AnTy

Police Freeze Chinese Crypto OTC Traders’ Accounts; Digital Assets Tied to Laundered Money

Chinese Police freeze crypto over the counter traders (OTC) accounts to investigate a possible incident of money laundering stains on some of the digital assets on exchanges. The abrupt halt in China’s biggest fiat on- and off- ramp gives sets in surveillance by the relevant law enforcement officers with locked users’ accounts needing an “approval of innocence” by the government before getting back your funds.

Chinese Police launch investigation on ‘tainted accounts’

A blog post on Weibo by one of the top OTC desk managers in China, Sun Xiaoxiao, revealed that China’s police in Guangdong province froze thousands of crypto OTC traders’ accounts starting last Thursday.

According to Sun the police froze users’ funds which they found to be “tainted” by money laundering activities. The police maintain the act to freeze funds is to investigate further on the possible source of the tainted crypto – no trader is being accused of any wrongdoing.

The speculations however are rising on what could be the possible reasons the OTC traders accounts have been frozen. Sun reasoned that the police may be targeting crimes involving telecommunication frauds, Ponzi schemes and casino businesses which use these trading desks to launder ‘dirty money.’ Sun’s blog post read,

“Now there are also OTC merchants who had their bank accounts frozen because of questions over the source of the coins they bought. That means, besides ‘dirty money,’ there are also ‘dirty coins‘ circulating.”

The police are yet to release any statement on the possible reasons why they froze the accounts.

An unusual act from the authorities

Money laundering on blockchains is quite common as the anonymity on cryptocurrencies give users some masked protection in laundering their money. In China, money laundering on OTC desks has been growing as the dirty money is transformed into Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.

Through market activities, some of these cryptocurrencies bought by tainted cash do find their way to innocent users’ accounts. Blockchain tracking tools such Chainalysis have made it easier for the police to trace such cash on public blockchains. The Chinese police are heavily invested in tracking tools in order to track down the money laundering activities, and innocent accounts do get caught in the middle.

However, in the past the police never froze innocent OTC traders’ funds due to tainted coins. Sun said this was a rather strange move by the police stating its “unusual for users to have their accounts frozen over tainted cryptocurrencies.”

For users to regain access to their accounts, they will need to prove to the authorities that their coins are “clean” by proving their source.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Movie Piracy Investigation Leads New Zealand Police to Seize $4.2 Million in Cryptocurrency

  • Police state that Jaron David McIvor has been laundering money through his PayPal and bank accounts, thanks to his online streaming movie website.
  • McIvor’s attorney states that the client is denying these allegations.

Cryptocurrency has dealt with many different scams, but one recent issue arose in a separate arrest in New Zealand. The national police force reportedly seized a total of NZ$6.2 million and NZ$6.7 million in cryptocurrency. The seizure came as a result of a local man who is believed to have been involved in online movie piracy, performed in the United States.

Based on the police report, the New Zealand police restrained about NZ$6.7 million at 5:00am local time on November 23rd. There was another NZ$1.1 million in bank funds, based on the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act, which were allegedly confiscated by Jaron David McIvor, a 31-year old software programmer.

An hour after this interaction, a press statement was released by authorities that claimed that the authorities had seized $6.2 million in cryptocurrency, plus $800,000 in bank funds over the summer, though they did not name the suspect. Another $472,000 in cryptocurrency and $377,000 in bank funds from in November from an associate.

A high court judge is part of the CPRA process, required to decide if the wealth and benefits accrued by an individual has been done through criminal activity. If the processes confirm this method, then the assets related to the alleged criminal activities can be frozen and confiscated.

For this case specifically, the local police believe that McIvor is participating in money laundering, since he helped to create an illegal movie-streaming website that has seen the inflow of millions of dollars. Detective Senior Sergeant Keith Kay stated that he and his team received a tip from the IRS, which had been tipped off by suspicious activity reports from PayPal. This path eventually led the tax officials with the Asset Recovery Unit in Waikato to McIvor, who was located in New Zealand.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, the police stated that McIvor’s streaming site had brought him about $2 million, which went into his bank accounts after processing through PayPal, Stripe, and international wire transfers. Kay added:

“Introducing illicitly-obtained funds into New Zealand constitutes money laundering and police will thoroughly investigate and restrain the assets of those who undertake such activity […] regardless of where in the world the crime is committed.”

The lawyer handling McIvor’s case, Truc Tran, stated that his client is presently denying allegations against him for money laundering, but no other details have been released.

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Author: Krystle M

China Authorities Arrest 6 People Related to GGP Crypto Scam (Global win-win Token)

Six people were recently charged by the Chinese police for their connection to a crypto scam. According to the reports from local media outlets, the police of the Jiangsu Province believes that these six fraudsters conned around 10,900 investors. They were able to get around $45 million USD from them.

The investors were led to believe that they were making a significant profit from their activities, but the money never appeared. The scam started around 2015 when the victims were told to invest in GGP “Global Win-win Token”. They would then use these digital investments in an online trading platform.

This scam was successful because it fooled the investors into making a trial investment and then promised to give them high returns after they invested more in it. The scammers even created a fake site that would show their returns.

Everything was fake, though. The company, the site, the tools, even the coin. One of the reasons why they managed to be able to do it was because they had actual experts in the financial industry as part of the team. The operation was very professional and well done.

They also used the blockchain buzzword. Not everybody in China is familiar with the term, so they made it seem like something revolutionary and used forums and propaganda to get the attention of people.

Now, however, the police were finally able to arrest the scammers and they will be charged for organizing a Ponzi scheme and for fraud. With the high number of people that were scammed, they will very likely be condemned for the crime.

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Author: Hank Klinger

British Authorities Will Auction $600,000 Worth of Seized Bitcoin from Hacker

The police of the United Kingdom are currently selling $620,000 USD worth of Bitcoin (BTC) in an auction. According to the reports from London Economic, the money was seized from a criminal who was arrested for hacking companies in order to steal data from the clients. The money was obtained illegally, so the police confiscated it.

This is set to be the first time ever in which the authorities of the United Kingdom have sold cryptocurrencies in an auction. Other assets that belonged to the criminals will be auctioned as well. They include a Rolex watch, cars and diamonds.

According to the reports, the auction will occur at the Wilson Auctions house, which is based in Ireland. All of the auction processes will be made online, however. People interested in bidding can start today and the highest bidder will obtain them.

While this is the first time that the British police holds an auction to sell Bitcoin, it is not the first time that Wilson Auctions has. Back in March, the auction house sold around $400,000 USD worth of BTC that were originally seized by the Belgian police during an operation.

Selling Bitcoin in auctions is not a new practice. The first time that this happened was in the United States back in 2014, when Bitcoin was only five years old. The Bitcoin sold then was confiscated from Silk Road, an online black market in which people used crypto to buy drugs and other illegal goods.

Curiously, it was Tim Draper, a famous investor, who bought the Bitcoin at the time. He bought 29,656 BTC in which was probably a pretty profitable transaction considering how much prices went up since then.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Portuguese Police Disrupt Darkweb Counterfeit Cash Network

The police enforcement from Portugal has recently disrupted a counterfeit money network that operated on the dark web. The criminals used to sell fake cash notes in exchange for Bitcoin and other cryptos.

According to the Portuguese police, the operation lasted two years and produced over one million EUR in fake notes that circulated in at least four countries: Portugal, Spain, France and Germany. This was the second-largest group of Europe at the time. There are no indications whether the notes made it to other countries as well.

Europol assisted the Portuguese police in this criminal investigation and affirmed that a total of five people were arrested for the crime. According to the official statement, the counterfeit notes were advertised on sites based on the dark web and the deals were made on encrypted chat platforms.

During the arrest, the police were able to seize 1,833 counterfeit notes, which were worth around $70,000 EUR. Objects that were used in order to create the fake notes were also apprehended by the police during the operation. These included computers, holographic stickers, ultraviolent ink and printers.

Selling fake money on the dark web is not really something uncommon. There are several black markets around the world in which people can buy illegal goods and most of the time people use cryptocurrencies because they are harder to track than bank deposits. Obviously, they also leave a track, unless you use a privacy coin such as Monero, so it is dangerous to use them.

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Author: Hank Klinger