Business

Dennis Wafula

Police arrest 3 Bulgarians in $5M crypto theft case

Authorities in Bulgaria arrested three suspects who were believed to have stolen cryptocurrencies worth $5 million, Reuters reported.

According to the interior ministry and prosecutors’ office, the three appeared to have good knowledge of cryptocurrency trading, which they used along with “innovative methods” as well as “specialized software” in their operations.

Two of the three suspects were taken into police custody “by order of the Specialized Criminal Court,” while the third paid “cash guarantee” amounting to BGN50,000 ($28,900).

During the arrest, police found cryptocurrencies worth $3 million, computers used to conduct the theft, flash drives, and many notebooks listing accounts of people real and fictitious used for the operation. Police seized a car worth about BGN60,000 ($34,700) from the location.

Over the years, Bulgarian officials have seized numerous cryptocurrencies all related to criminal activities. The $3 million worth of cryptocurrencies taken by Bulgarian officials could be added to the country’s growing stash of cryptocurrency. Last year, authorities managed to collect over 213,000 BTC. Experts believe Bulgaria is sitting on one of the world’s most massive crypto stash valued at over $800 million at today’s prices.

According to a report by CipherTrace, a U.S.-based cyber security firm, theft of cryptocurrencies through hacking of exchanges and trading platforms soared to $927 million in the first nine months of the year. These new figures are up nearly 250 percent from the level seen in 2017.

Earlier this year, Japanese exchange Coincheck had over $530 million worth of crypto stolen. Bitgrail, another exchange in Italy, lost $195 million. The frequency, severity, and amount of cryptocurrency being stolen is only increasing.

On Nov. 14, a 21-year-old man was arrested by the U.S. federal agents for allegedly stealing $1 million of cryptocurrency from a Silicon Valley executive. The young man is believed to have hacked the executive’s phone. The 21-year-old, who used a SIM-swapping scheme to steal the cryptocurrencies, victimized six others, resulting in his arrest. He is now facing 21 counts of felony charges.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.

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