• British Royal Court sentenced a Ph.D. student of Oxford to four and half years in prison for a 2 million euro crypto scam.
• The 36-year-old student named Wybo Wiersma created a website that supposedly generated private keys, but they were predetermined with malicious codes and he would hijack funds into his private account.
• Bitfinex froze his accounts after he presented two fake passports, leading him to make an unsuccessful attempt to access the funds from another exchange.
Cryptocurrency Crime on the Rise
Cryptocurrency crimes are becoming increasingly common and law enforcement agencies are taking proactive steps to crack down on bad actors. On January 27th, 2020, the British Royal Court handed down a sentence of four and a half years in prison to Wybo Wiersma, a 36-year old Ph.D. student from Oxford University who was convicted of committing a 2 million euro crypto scam.
Details of The Crypto Scam
Wiersma had set up the website iotaseed.io while studying at St Cross College under a false name which purports to generate random 81 character private keys (seeds) necessary for trading IOTA – a cryptocurrency accessible only through these passwords known as seeds. By writing malicious code onto the website however, Wiersma was able to access each user’s “seeds” when they carried out transactions and steal their funds into his own personal account. He then converted these stolen funds into Bitcoin and Monero (an altcoin) using Bitfinex crypto exchange on January 19th 2018 – worth approximately 11 million dollars initially before being partially recovered by the IOTA foundation and affected exchanges after blocking his accounts from further activity on the platform..
Bitfinex Freezes Accounts
Due to suspicious activity associated with Wiersma’s accounts, Bitfinex froze them until he could provide proof of identity – which he did in form of two photograms containing two fake passports; one from Belgium containing incorrect information about said country along with an Australian passport belonging to someone named Jason respectively . When unable to identify whose accounts were frozen due these false documents, Bitfinex left them locked resulting in an unsuccessful attempt by Wiermsa later on trying to access them via another exchange..
After pleading guilty against charges brought against him during investigations conducted by South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), Wybo Wiermsa was sentenced by the British Royal Court for four and half years on January 27th 2020 for his role in this large scale crypto scam..
This case serves as an example for many other criminals out there involved in similar activities highlighting just how serious law enforcement is taking such offences regardless of individual’s backgrounds or positions held within educational institutions or communities at large