This entire week we’ve been listening how cybercriminals wreaked havoc on major cryptocurrency networks and organized different types of scams to earn cryptocurrencies anyhow. However, this news suggests that payback time has begun for at least some of them. London police has seized over £500,000 in Bitcoins from a British hacker named Grant West whom they had arrested last year, proving that it’s not impossible to make people accounted for their illegal wealth parked in cryptocurrencies.
West had earned a majority of this Bitcoin wealth by duping people with help of phishing emails. He used to send fake surveys from the name of popular food delivery service Just Eat, in which he used to say that completing the survey would land the respondent a free food voucher. The survey, however, used to be fake and it used to provide the personal information of respondents to him, which he then used to sell on dark web. This single scam earned him £180,000 in wealth while causing damages worth £200,000 to Just Eat company. All of this illegally obtained wealth was turned into Bitcoins by him to avoid tracking.
But West didn’t stop there. He also hacked the systems of major companies to obtain even more data to sell. The companies that suffered from his attacks include Uber, Barclay’s, British Airways, Asda and Ladbrokes. In Barclay’s attack his clients stole £84,000 from the accounts of customers and caused damages of £300,000 to the bank. British Airways suffered from an even more horrible experience as it lost £400,000 because of Grant’s activities.
Grant reportedly used his newly found wealth to purchase a new Audi and travel to exotic locations among other luxuries. He was nabbed on a first-class train to London in September 2017 by some detectives from crybercrime unit of Scotland Yard Police. The police grabbed him from his arms while he was logged into his cryptocurrency wallets and dark web accounts before he could have logged out. Had this plan not been executed perfectly it would have been very difficult to legally link the crypto coins and dark web accounts with him.
The laptop seized at that time belonged to his girlfriend, and police found financial information of 100,000 people on it. His arrest was followed by a raid on his home, from where police recovered an SD card containing details of 63,000 credit and debit cards and 7 million email addresses along with their respective passwords. £25,0000 in cash and 500 gms of cannabis was also seized during the raid, which was also being sold by him on dark web.
West used to sell the personal information stolen by him on now defunct dark net site Alpha Bay. After a lengthy trial on May 25 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. £500,000 worth of BTC were seized from his girlfriend’s device, who has also been sentenced to a few years of community service. However, over £1.6 million worth of Bitcoins owned by him still remain unaccounted for.