A multi-agency task force captured six Dutch and British individuals concerning to the multimillion euro cryptocurrency theft.
The multi-agency investigation jointly conducted by the UK’s South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit (SW RCCU), Dutch police (Politie), Europol, Eurojust and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) took 24 months to zero in with the alleged perpetrators of a €24 million cryptocurrency theft, according to a press release by Europol.
The concerned organization released no further details regarding the actual theft, but the recent announcement revealed that five men and one woman were arrested in simultaneous warrants on the morning of June 25th, at their homes in Charlcombe, Lower Weston and Staverton (UK) and Amsterdam and Rotterdam (the Netherlands).
During the arrest, the authorities seized a larger number of electronic devices, equipment, and valuable assets.
Three of the six suspects in custody were apprehended in the Netherlands, including a 19-year-old woman in Amsterdam, and two Rotterdam men aged 21 and 26. The three are currently charged with the suspicion of money laundering and violations of the Computer Misuse Act.
The three were scheduled to appear before in court on Friday, Dutch police said.
According to the agency, the suspects stole bitcoin from at least four thousand victims in 12 different countries across Europe, and these numbers are expected to grow bigger.
“The thieves are suspected of targetting users’ bitcoin tokens, affecting at least 4 000 victims in 12 countries; these numbers are expected to grow further,” wrote a press release from Eurojust.
According to the authorities, the modus operandi of the arrested persons include “typosquatting” where they impersonated and “spoofed” popular crypto exchange websites to trick users to login in their bogus sites for them to collect login information and ultimately steal funds from the victims’ accounts.
“In February 2018, the South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit (SW RCCU) identified possible suspects living in the Netherlands and referred the case to the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), hosted at Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). Europol organized two operational meetings, allowing for the smooth exchange of intelligence and evidence, which led to the successful outcome of the operation. A coordination meeting was held at Eurojust, the EU’s Judicial Cooperation Unit, to decide on a joint strategy and prepare for the smooth coordination of the action day,” wrote Eurojust.
Crypto hacking is rampant
In recent months, cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges have become the target of a series of hacking attacks aiming to steal funds and data from their system.
Three months ago, a Singapore-based crypto exchange company has announced Monday that hackers have stolen an undisclosed amount of crypto money.
DragonEx, a crypto exchange company based in Singapore sent a message through Telegram saying that the company fell victim to a cyber attack and noted that cryptocurrency funds owned by users and the exchange were “transferred and stolen.” The company did not disclose the total value of the losses and the amount of the stolen cryptocurrency funds yet.
DragonEx admins updated its users and provide wallet addresses for 20 cryptocurrencies to which the stolen funds had been transferred. The list included the top five cryptos by market capitalization: Bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), XRP, litecoin (LTC) and EOS, as well as the stable tether coin (USDT) for which six destination addresses were provided.
Other attacks also targeted the exchange company instead of its users. Last May, Cryptopia announced that they are selling their assets for them to recover from the significant loss they experience after their system was attacked earlier this year.
The unfortunate incident started when Cryptopia went offline on January without any warning only to notify the public after a few weeks saying that the exchange had “suffered a security breach which resulted in significant losses.”
According to a blockchain data analytics firm, their investigation allowed them to estimate the loss caused by the cyber attack to be as much as $16 million in ether and ERC-20 tokens. While the company has restarted its trading services in March, no one is still certain of the actual damages that the cyber attacked caused the company. Until now, the company is still recovering from the aftermath of the breach and still having banking issues.