A British court will this month sentence a 26 year old cyber-fraudster, from whom Scotland Yard seized about $700,000 in bitcoin proceeds earned from cyber-crime activities in 2015.
The seizure of the $700,000 worth of bitcoin from Grant West last year is one of the first such seizures of cryptocurrency from any cyber-criminal in Britain.
West was arrested last year on a train after a lengthy investigation by police authorities who were able to gain access to his bitcoin accounts as he was logged in at the time of his arrest.
West’s cyber-crime activities involved hacking into websites of companies such as Sainsbury’s, Uber, Ladbrokes and others. After gaining access into the companies’ websites, he would then obtain personal information of customers for companies.
Britain’s Southwark Crown Court will sentence West on May 25.
Takeaway dining company Just Eat appears to have been the most affected after private information belonging to nearly 200,000 of its clients was obtained, with West using phishing email scam to mine the details.
The personal details of these companies’ clients were then sold on various dark web market places. West would then convert the proceeds into his bitcoin account. The fraudulent activities were carried out using the username Courvoisier during the July to December 2015 period.
Mick Gallangher, one of the investigators under the police team that worked on the case for two years said British police and authorities had now debunked the anonymous nature of cyber criminals who convert their proceeds into cryptocurrencies.
“These people generally feel they can operate with impunity, that they can’t be touched. We have now debunked that,” he said.
British courts have already sentenced West’s girlfriend, Rachael Brookes, who is an accomplice in the cyber-crimes to two years. This was after West pleaded guilty to charges cyber-attack charges in December last year.
USA Today has also reported that Investigators also gleaned encrypted access codes saved on West’s computer.
The confiscation of bitcoin belonging to West under the case has raised debate and discussion over the difficulties of law enforcement, especially when tracking fraudulent money stored in cryptocurrencies.
However, as a fact check from a Quebec government agency found last month, bitcoin’s perceived associations with criminal activity are largely overblown.