Bitcoin Worth $700,000 Seized From British Hacker
Last year, Scotland Yard apprehended a big-time hacker Grant West, who illegally gained access to over 63,000 credit and debit card details to sell on the dark web in return for bitcoin. As reported on USA Today, the London Metropolitan Police confiscated $700,000 USD worth of bitcoin.
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Personal Data of 165,000 People Compromised
The 25-year-old culprit operated his dark web account under the alias of “Courvoisier”, where he sold credit card data of people in addition to drugs. West used his girlfriend’s laptop to run all illegal activities. The British court deemed his girlfriend Rachel Brookes to be an accomplice, charging her with two years of community service. The police got hold of West after a two-year covert operation.
West faces sentencing on May 25th. In December, the defendant pleaded guilty to charges of multiple cyber attacks, money laundering of bitcoin, fraud, drug offenses, and also selling data on the dark web.
According to investigators, from June to December 2015, West launched multiple cyber attacks on over 100 companies and acquired the personal data of about 165,000 people. The data was recovered by police during a raid on the hacker’s home. At the time of the raid, drugs were found on his premises. The young offender targeted online gambling sites, delivery services, and mobile phone companies.
Governments Unable to Stop Dark Web Operations
One of West’s main targets were customers of Just Eat – a London-based publicly listed online food and delivery service. The hacker offered deals to tempt individuals into revealing their personal details, including credit card numbers and account passwords. He then sold the data to criminals on the dark web in return for bitcoin, which he reportedly stored on multiple digital wallets.
At the time of his arrest, West was logged into his laptop, allowing investigators to gain access to all the files stored on it, including encrypted access codes to his digital account.
West sold drugs and personal information on the now-defunct Alphabay – one of the biggest Dark Web marketplaces. The mastermind behind Alphabay, Alexander Cazes was arrested by law enforcement officials in Thailand. Cazes was similarly logged into his computer at the time of his arrest, allowing investigators to seize digital assets worth $8 million spread across multiple digital wallets.
The case follows the arrest one month ago of Gabriele Pearson in Surrey, who stole $70,000 worth of bitcoin. Police in Delhi busted a drug trafficking ring last year that operated on the dark web and also received payment in bitcoin.
Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher, who led the two-year covert investigation said:
“There was a myth that bitcoin in particular, and crypto-currencies more generally, was anonymous and it was also a myth that people can operate with impunity on the dark web and remain anonymous.”
Governments around the world have been struggling to restrict illegal activities that link to bitcoin. Earlier this year, Bloomberg’s Rob Urban stated that bitcoin is losing interest among criminals, especially on the dark web. Bitcoin is traceable, whereas altcoins such as Monero and ZCash are not. Transactions made via both these currencies are almost impossible to trace.
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