European Union law enforcement agency, Europol has reportedly caught up with a 36-year old British man alleged to be the mastermind of $11 million crypto theft in early 2018.
An announcement released by Europol regarding the incident confirmed that the unnamed suspect stole Iota tokens (a type of cryptocurrency) up to that amount from 85 users globally.
Users of IOTA tokens are usually required to create 81-digit security seeds which serve as a private key for their digital assets.
So, the suspect created a website (iotaseed.io) which claimed to help users generate these security seeds. But his primary motive was to collect these newly generated seeds and use it to assess victim’s IOTA wallets and steal their funds.
Upon realizing that their IOTA tokens were missing, victims reported the incident to the Hessen State Police (Germany). Through investigations, the losses were traced first to the website and then the suspect who lives in the U.K.
The case was then referred to Europol’s Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT). The J-CAT then arranged meetings between Police authorities in the U.K and Germany which produced information about the suspect’s whereabouts.
The suspect was finally arrested in Oxford, U.K on January 23 by the South East Regional Organized Crime Unit (SEROCU) on suspicion of fraud, theft and money laundering. Also, some computers, electronic gadgets, cash and drugs belonging to him were confiscated by the authorities.
While the suspect remains under custody, the latest incident confirms that international collaboration/regulation is necessary to reduce the growing number of fraudulent activities facing the crypto industry.
In November, G20 member nations took the first step to create such regulation by announcing that it would align crypto rules with standards used by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to track crime.
The hope would be for the regulations to come as soon as possible before so much damage is done.