Cybercrime detectives seize more than £2m of cryptocurrency
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Detectives from our Cyber Crime Unit have seized more than £2million worth of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency as part of a money laundering investigation. The cryptocurrency seizure is one of the first and largest of its kind in Lincolnshire.
A 17-year-old from the south of the county, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged with fraud by false representation and money laundering in connection with the investigation. He appeared at Lincoln Crown Court today (26 October) and was sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order.
The teenager was arrested on 14th August 2020 following further investigations into intelligence reports received from Action Fraud and Crimestoppers. Intelligence suggested that the suspect was involved in credit card fraud and was stealing personal information to defraud a digital gift voucher company out of around £6,000.
Detectives later uncovered links to money laundering through cryptocurrency, which prompted further enquiries and resulted in the seizure of more than 48 Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency is a form of digital or virtual currency, similar to PayPal or bank credit, that can be bought or traded online. It is decentralised, meaning it is not controlled by a government, but by an algorithm and users themselves - Bitcoin is one of many cryptocurrencies available. The offence took place between 9th-16th April 2020.
A confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) was granted today at Lincoln Crown Court.
Cyber Crime Investigator Detective Constable Luke Casey said: “This was a sophisticated cyber fraud and a complex investigation which involved our Cyber Crime Unit working collaboratively with a number of external agencies and other internal departments. I would like to give thanks to all involved for their hard work, commitment and dedication in helping to bring about a positive outcome for this case.
“Action Fraud and Crimestoppers played a part in the early identification of the offences as well as the suspect, and their involvement enabled us to begin a full and immediate investigation into this crime. This highlights their importance in the area of crime reporting and shows that reports made to Action Fraud and Crimestoppers are taken seriously and are passed onto the police to review and investigate.
“Cryptocurrency is often thought, by criminals, to be an anonymous way to move funds around undetected but I’m glad that in this case, we were able to highlight that the police are now able to effectively investigate offences of this nature.
"It’s no secret that the tactics used by cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated, but through our commitment to training and development in digital investigation, this case has also shown that we are prepared and able to adapt to the ever-changing and complex nature of cybercrime.”
At today's sentencing, Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight paid tribute to the speed with which our detectives progressed a complex investigation, which involved a large number of devices and digital evidence.