Europol, the European Union law enforcement agency, led an operation that resulted in the arrest of a 36-year-old British man suspected of stealing more than $11 million worth of iota tokens. The arrest took place in the city of Oxford, UK, and it was possible thanks to the cooperation of British and German police agencies.
At the time of his arrest on suspicion of fraud, theft and money laundering, a number of computers and electronic devices were also seized by the police. His spate of crypto thefts occurred in January 2018, from the wallets of over 85 victims worldwide.
The reported thefts of a number of iota wallets in Germany prompted the opening of an investigation in early 2018. The possible location of the perpetrator was traced to the UK by Hessen State Police, and a coordinated operation led by the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce, hosted by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, was launched. The South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and National Crime Agency (NCA), both based in the UK, also cooperated with the operation and arrest.
The results of the investigation unveiled the method used for committing the thefts. Users of a now-defunct website that created 81-digit security seeds for iota wallets were targeted. Several victims created the seed on this website in good faith, ignoring that the seeds were stored in the background by the service provider. Later, the cyber criminal used these seeds to gain access to the victims’ wallets and transferred their money to other wallets that he created with fake IDs.