Business

Erik Gibbs

6 arrested in UK, Netherlands over $27M crypto theft

There will always be crooks in cryptocurrency—just like there are in all sectors, even in those tasked with being responsible for managing other people’s money. However, the crypto community is maturing every day and it is becoming increasingly difficult to get away with heists, especially when they involve serious amounts of money. The latest example is the busting of a small gang of criminals operating in Europe that stole about $27 million in crypto, but whose freedom was deservedly cut short.

Police in the U.K. and the Netherlands have arrested six people for leading the crypto theft ring. Five men and one woman were nabbed in England, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam following raids in those locations on Tuesday that resulted from an investigation into “typosquatting.”

Typosquatting refers to the concept of having a well-known website spoofed, with the resulting scam website appearing as the real deal. To the untrained eye, the fake website looks completely legitimate and, in this case, led to a large number of people turning over their crypto assets while believing that they were dealing with the legitimate site.

The investigation began after police in the U.K. received a report of someone losing around $21,000 in SegWitCoin (BTC). Detective Inspect Louise Boyce explains, “The investigation has grown from a single report of £17,000 worth of bitcoin stolen from a Wiltshire-based victim to a current estimate of more than 4,000 victims in at least 12 countries.” She added that more victims could be identified as the investigation continues.

In the U.K., three men were arrested—one each in Charlcombe and Lower Weston in Bath and one in Staverton in Wiltshire—on charges of money laundering and “computer misuse.” The Dutch contingent of the investigation took down two men and a woman aged 21, 26, and 29, and they have been held on suspicion of money laundering.

The arrests follow only days after two brothers were arrested in Israel for the exact same crimes. Eli and Assag Gigi had launched a number of fake websites that looked like their legitimate counterparts, allegedly stealing tens of millions of dollars. There is no indication that the two cases are related.

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