Police officers in the UK targeting cross-border crimes say that they have worked with US-based digital asset exchange Kraken to return the stolen assets of crypto theft victims.
According to the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), Wybo Wiersma, from the Netherlands, created the fraudulent website iotaseed.io to generate what his victims believed were random seeds to control their IOTA cryptocurrency.
The seed phrases were predetermined though, which enabled Wiersma to transfer the tokens to a number of crypto trading accounts without the owners’ consent.
Wiersma was eventually found guilty of theft. He was ordered to pay £2.1 million, part of which was deducted from the £2.37 million crypto that authorities seized.
Around £1.9 million worth of the stolen assets is to be paid back to the victims, but the tokens had to be converted to Sterling (GBP) first before they could be recovered by their owners. SEROCU says Kraken helped ensure that the process was done lawfully.
“Kraken provided significant expertise and support that enabled SEROCU to convert the stolen crypto assets into GBP so they could be returned to victims. Kraken also liaised with the FCA to ensure the processing of stolen assets was done lawfully, consistent with Kraken’s FCA registration.”
In January, Wiersma was sentenced to spend four and a half years behind bars. Between 50 and 60 victims worldwide have so far been identified.
Says Detective Inspector Rob Bryant of SEROCU’s Cyber Crime and Cryptocurrency Unit,
“The victims, of which there are many across the world, have patiently waited for five years for this to happen and it is thanks to my team’s innovation and collaboration, particularly with Kraken, without whom this may not have been possible.
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