Crypto were the days when they were crypto were perceived as immune to the clutches of law enforcement.
Cryptographic maze for authorities to navigate.
But the criminals themselves present a more concrete target, to be traditional, to the "traditional" firearms, there has been some success in 2018 in nabbing some of the year's darkest – and most imaginative – offenders.
Coins of the Lawrence, Cointelegraph, Stock Photo of the Coins of Lawrence, Crinting High Crimes and Misdemeanors this year.
Foiled supercomputer Bitcoin heist in Russian nuclear no-man's land
In February, Russian security agents scored a coup against a group of nuclear engineers at a top-secret nuclear warhead facility who supercomputers to mine Bitcoin (BTC).
The engineers worked at the Federal Nuclear Center in the western city of Sarov – formerly one of the Soviet Union's closed-off cities, unmarked on historic maps and shrouded in secrecy.
As one of the Soviets "closed administrative territorial entities," Sarov was then known as Arzamas-16, and was the center of research and production for the first Soviet atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb under Joseph Stalin. Russians to visit it.
With such a stellar off-grid history, you'd think the Bitcoin-hungry nuclear engineers might have suspected that connecting the site's supercomputer – a 1 petaflop titan with a capacity for 1,000 trillion calculations per second – to the internet could draw just a little attention.
The security department was alerted to the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Tatiana Zalesskaya, the head of the service for the research institute, told the Interfax news agency that was attempted at "technically hopeless and criminally punishable offense."
A criminal case was reportedly duly opened against them.
It was alleged that the radioactive polonium-210 used to kill ex-FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 was produced in Sarov, which houses a plant that is said to be the world's only commercial producer of the substance, according to evidence presented before court in the United Kingdom.
Sarov's rogue scientists are not the only ones to have thought of using former Soviet military spaces for crypto mining. The Ice Rock Mining firm has plans to – legally set up mining operations in a former Soviet bunker located in a quarry in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Caught in the headlights: Thai actor "Boom" arrested on set for alleged crypto fraud family affair
This summer, reports emerge to the story of a Finnish millionaire allegedly fooled by a Thai crypto investment scam – to the tune of Bitcoin worth 797 million baht ($ 24.62 million) at the time.
According to the Thai Crime Suppression Division (CSD), the 22-year-old Finn, identified as Aarni Otava Saarimaa, claimed to be investing his Bitcoin into several companies, to casino and the gambling-focused crypto token Dragon Coin.
Saarima's business partner, the Thai businessman Chonnikan Kaeosali, reportedly first approached the CSD in January this year, outlining how the pair had been drawn to purchase shares in three firms – Expay Group, NX Chain Inc. and DNA 2002 Plc – that were purported to be investors in Dragon Coin. Back in June 2017 He said they were first approached in connection with the affair.
The fraudsters are said to have taken their victims around Macau-based casino where they claimed the gambling-focused token would soon be used. Saarima said transfer his crypto but never saw returns, shareholder papers nor any proof of investment in Dragon Coin.
As the CSD's investigations unfolded, they identified a group of nine suspects – three of them were revealed to be a group of siblings from the Jaravijit family. The suspects are said to have swiftly sold the crypto for local currency.
It was the arrest of one of the siblings this summer – a dapper 27-year-old soap opera star known as Jiratpisit "Boom" Jaravijit – that first brought the case to public light.
On Aug. 9, Boom was held in custody on the money in the Cineplex Ratchayothin in Bangkok's Chatuchak district. It was the day after the star's birthday.
Plots of land worth 176 million baht ($ 5.44 million).
Boom's brother, Prinya Jaravijit, is told to have been given a tip-off from a Thai banker about the wealthy Finn and then set the heist in motion. Prinya has reportedly fled to South Korea.
The CSD has sought the arrest of warrants for a total of six suspects and a total of 51 different bank accounts in addition to the siblings' land.
Boom was temporarily released on a 2 million baht ($ 61,827) bail bond on the condition that he would not leave the country, having argued that he had not been intending to flee.
Earlier this month, another Jaravijit sibling turned into the other charges, while police met two further suspects: Prasit Srisuwan, a well-known stock trader, and Chakris Ahmad.
Boom's parents, Mr. Suwit and Ms. Lertchatkamol, have been transferred to their accounts. Both have denied involvement.
India: Former ruling party lawmaker nabbed "fast asleep" on a construction site
Bitconnect investment in the wealthy state of Gujarat.
Earlier this month, a former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was Bitcoin. remanded in custody for allegedly from a Gujarati Bitconnect investor.
In February, a Surat-based builder by the name of Shailesh Bhatt had charged into the Home the Indian state of Gujarat, alleging that 10 district cops had kidnapped and extorted him for 176 BTC, worth 9.45 crore * rupee (around $ 1.31 million).
* A crore rupee denotes 10 million and is equal to 100 lakh rupee in the Indian numbering system (1 lakh rupee denotes 100,000)
The band of 10 was allegedly not only rank-and-file constables but even to superintendent and a local Crime Branch Inspector.
Bhatt, who is said to have been known for his penchant for trading, claimed to have been duped by one of his business aides, Kirit Paladiya.
He was allegedly beaten in a "torture room" and asked by a CBI official to pay a cash ransom.
He was kidnapped during a meeting at his Paladiya near a fuel station, where he was whisked off to a local farm house. There, he said, "[the police officers] beat me up inside a room and threatened to kill me […] if I did not hand over my Bitcoins. "
Bhatt then accused Paladiya of double-crossing him in the cahoots with his influential uncle, the former BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya, who he claimed had been the one who pressured him into paying the ransom.
Bhatt has been said to be wolf in sheep's clothing. 1.55 billion rupee ($ 215 million) worth of crypto and cash at gunpoint – including around 2,400 BTC – from two local well-known Bitconnect promoters Satish Kumbhani.
However, Indian authorities nonetheless believed to be behind the accusations against the former lawmaker Kotadiya, first issuing an arrest warrants against him in mid-May.
Kotadiya has repeatedly hit back against the allegations, notably via WhatsApp video – reposted on Youtube in late April – in which, attired in pink, he claimed to have been informed about the Bitcoin heist and attributed the full blame for the extortion scandal and conspiracy to Bhatt.
Moreover, he politicians in the scandal, saying that Bhatt was protecting them and therefore attempting to "fix him" in the case.
Nonetheless, by mid-June, at local sessions judge declared Kotadiya at "proclaimed offender" (absconder) and demanded before the court within 30 days.
As Kotadiya continued to elude the clutches of law enforcement during summer, he was finally nabbed after four months in hiding on Sept. 10. He was reportedly found "fast asleep" on the second floor of a railway quarters still under construction, after a local contractor gave police the golden tip-off.
"When we [eventually] found him, he was sleeping on a mattress and there was just an earthen pot of water in the room. "
As Cointelegraph has reported, Kotadiya's alleged embroilment has been a political gold mine for the opposition party, the Indian National Congress (INC), who alleges that further members of the ruling BJP have used the Bitconnect scam to launder undeclared "black" money.
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and a mastermind – an absconding BJP leader and former MLA Nalin Kotadiya […] Who are the top BJP leaders against whom Kotadiya has damning evidence? We demand an impartial Supreme Court-monitored judicial investigation. "
As of press time, the time of Kotadiya's custody is up, yet the alleged evidence that he claims to have been made public.
Iceland's Bitcoin miner heist: A high-gliding fugitive and suspect hardware in Tianjin
This year, one of Iceland's "largest criminal cases in history" has seen an outlandish set of twists and turns, leading to the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.
In February, news broke of a series of unprecedented thefts, involving powerful computing equipment that had been stolen in a "highly organized" Bitcoin mining heist. Three burglaries were reported in December 2017 and in fourth in January.
The burglars had allegedly swiped 20 million krónur (around $ 180,000) worth of equipment – 600 graphics cards, 100 power supplies, 100 motherboards, 100 memory discs and 100 CPU processors – from a house in the municipality of Reykjanesbær.
Reykjanesbær and Borgarbyggð, with a total of 600 computers stolen from both places, worth 200 million krónur (almost $ 2 million). Said whereabouts of the equipment, said to have been used for Bitcoin mining – remained untraceable.
Advance produced in the data center in Reykjanesbær. The authorities soon recovered most of the stolen equipment, yet the 600 computers remained elusive. Both suspects were reported in local media as being "uncooperative."
Then, on April 17, one of the detainees escaped at 1 a.m. from "custody" to "open" (low-security) "prison", "just a week before" were two to move forward with an indictment.
The fugitive, Sindri Thor Stefánsson, fled the country on a passport bearing boarding a passenger plane to Sweden that was embarrassingly revealed to have been carrying Iceland's prime minister.
To the day after the end of the day, and to the question of renewal. This, according to him, left to a brief interim during which the warrant for his custody was legally invalid.
He will be returning "soon," telling reporters he would be challenging his two-and-a-half-month custody at the European Court of Human Rights.
He was arrested in central Amsterdam, after a photo published on Instagram with the hashtag #teamsindri allegedly given him away, according to media outlets Iceland Monitor. I did not confirm this was the case.
Allegedly incriminating Instagram snap of Stefánsson in Amsterdam: Source: Iceland Monitor
Despite #teamsindri reportedly briefly trending across Icelandic Twitter, The last month came together with a judge charged by Stefánsson. While Stefánsson has been confirmed as theft, it remains unclear what role the other six defendants are charged with as having in the incident.
Just days after Stefansson's Amsterdam stint, Police in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin seized 600 computers used to mine Bitcoin, after abnormal electricity usage. Local media outlets reported to be the largest power the property in recent years, but notably also drew the attention of authorities back to Iceland, who suspected the exact number of suspect hardware was more than just an uncanny coincidence.
Icelandic police reached out to date.
"One of the best out there": A teenage SIM-swapping crypto hacker with a taste for luxury cars
Last month, Californian police nabbed to hackers who allegedly stole Bitcoin worth over $ 1 million via a series of so-called 'SIM-swapping' heists – also known as 'port-out scams'. The 19-year-old suspect, identified as Xzavyer Narvaez, is online.
A SIM-swap attack results in the victim, with all incoming calls or text messages redirected to the attacker's device. SIM cards can be a goldmine in deft hands.
Prosecutors allege that Narvaez used his ill-gotten crypto proceeds to purchase luxury goods, including a $ 200,000 high-performance McLaren sports car, which were tracked through records obtained from Bitcoin BitPay payment provider.
According to cybercrime blog Krebs on Security, the investigators interviewed several victims of Narvaez, he was robbed of $ 150,000 in crypto after his SIM was hijacked.
Between March and June 2018 alone, Narvaez's account on a crypto exchange Bittrex reportedly a flow of a staggering 157 BTC. Personal identification information without authorization; four counts of altering and damaging computer data with intent to defraud or obtain money, or other value; and grand theft of personal property of a value over $ 950,000, according to court documents.
VICE's parallel investigations traced Narvaez's impressive "credentials" in the SIM-swapping underworld, with one source telling the magazine that he was considered "one of the best […] out there. "VICE's source provided screenshots of Narvaez's former Instagram account, which allegedly featured euphoric photos of his fresh, 2018 snow white McLaren, accompanied by the caption "Live fast, die young."
Narvaez is said to have been under the radar of law enforcement following the arrest of one Joel Ortiz, described as "a gifted 20-year-old college student from Boston"Swaps to swipe over." $ 5 million in crypto from 40 different victims.
A redacted "statement of facts" in the case obtained by Krebs revealed that records from Google had traced that to cellular device used by Ortiz to commit SIM swaps had been used to access the Google account identified as Xzavyer.Narvaez@gmail .com.
In an unrelated houses this July, Florida police reportedly arrested at 25-year-old, Ricky Joseph Handschumacher, who was accused of being part of a multi-state, cyber-fraud SIM-swapping ring that operated over the course of two years.
The gang of nine – was initially tracked in February, when to "worried mom" overheard her son talking on the phone impersonating to telecoms firm employee. The group is allegedly "routinely paid" a plan to hack accounts belonging to the CEO of the high-profile Gemini Trust company – namely those of Bitcoin billionaire Tyler Winklevoss.
Handschumacher himself posted multiple flashy purchases – including a pickup truck, multiple all-terrain vehicles and jet skis – on his public Facebook profile. BTC through his account, "virtually all", were not purchased on the platform.
As law enforcement closed in on this host spry and unabashed millennial SIM swappers, in August, to U.S. investor filed for $ 224 million lawsuit, AT & T giant telecoms. Michael Terpin accused the firm of alleged negligence, claiming that $ 24 million in crypto was stolen off to "digital identity theft" of his cell phone account.
His complaint alleged that:
"What AT & T" was a good idea for a room and a key to a safe room. "
"Fake news": OKEx CEO "detained" for alleged fraud
The most recent high-profile, crypto-related "detention" involve OKEx CEO Star Xu, who was the subject of a host of conflicting media reports – and even one viral dumpling-related anecdote – following his sudden tête-à-tête with Chinese authorities this month.
Xu has robustly hit back to rumors WFEE Coin, blockchain WiFi sharing project they claimed Xu held shares in.
The allegedly defrauded victims had reportedly contacted Shanghai police, who "summoned" the CEO to a police station on Sept. 10 to "put [him] "as tech news source" ZeroHedge wrote at the time.
Sina Technology appeared to confirm that the police had been notified at 5:59 pm. on Sept. 10.
Image of police report allegedly involving Star Xu's detention. Source: Sina Technology
At the same time, alternative sources in China claimed the investors were in fact traders incensed by system failures on the OKEx exchange itself. As Bitcoin (BTC) tumbled on Sept. 5, OK Execution in the case of leveraged trades.
Cointelegraph's own Chinese sources have been given a degree of light on what has been spiralled into a sordid media affair, substantiating suspicions That much of the hearsay was indeed "fake news."
The sources have emphasized that Xu was the one who approached the police of his own accord. In their account, on Sept. 10, Xu had arrived at the Shanghai office of OK Group to meet with customers and conduct other business affairs. He had also – incidentally – made an appointment at the prospective personal fitness coach.
There are a lot of investors who are interested in the OKCoin and WFEE coin investors. Some ambiguity remains as their exact identity – and if they were indeed OKEx exchange or held Xu responsible for the vicissitudes of the WFEE token, or a mix of both.
Having gotten wind of Xu's visit to Shanghai, the aggrieved group is OK
Photo showing the apparent vandalization of OK
An alarmed Xu is said to have been his back to his hotel. Suspected she would lead them to Xu. The CEO's room, threatening him.
After four hours, Xu is said to have alerted the police. Xen called a group of "henchmen" to join him at the police station. They are said to have been frighted and approached the authorities themselves.
In an interview published soon after his release, Xu confirmed he had been held by the Shanghai police, seeming to imply he had made the contact on his own initiative:
"In Shanghai, someone reported that I was defrauding. I did not swindle. "
"While Star was detained, they raised a fraud complaint against Star. Star stayed to clarify and then left afterward. "
According to Cointelegraph's sources, no one was witness to Xu's departure from the station, and it remains unclear how long he spent there.
Xu has stated that while it is "normal" for people to exercise their right to make such allegations, he has equally fulfilled his "duty" as a citizen by cooperating with the authorities. In terms of his alleged responsibility for system "abnormalities" on the exchange, Xu has responded that:
"I am not a legal person of OKEx, nor am I a shareholder or a director."
This point was echoed in Cheung's parallel tweets, in which the COO stressed that "Star is the founder of OK Group, [and] although we are good friends, he does not run OK. "Cheung has added that he felt" disappointed that the story was twisted before the truth came out."
Jiemian has meanwhile reported that seven of a total of 300 investors who have claimed to have suffered heavy losses on the OKE. Notably, repeated system failures to a total of 300 million yuan. "
In his post-release interview, he stressed that while leveraged trading is a "neutral tool in itself", it is "not suitable for ordinary investors" as the potential for accelerated net profit and loss requires "professional knowledge" to manage the risks involved .
As Jiemian noted, while OKEx offers investors the opportunity to add as much as 20 times to their contracts, unlike traditional futures trading platforms, the exchange without regulatory oversight.
OK for OK, OK Blockchain Capital (OKBC) – a strategic partner of OK and OK group – has publicly refuted the allegations that Xu had any shares in the project, tweeting on Sept. 12 that:
"The rumor that OK Group founder Star Xu [is] a shareholder of WFEE is fake. Mr. Xu has no equity relationship with WFEE and its company. "
OKBC has further clarified its own relationship with WFEE, stating that "OKBC is one of the institutional investors of WFEE." WFEE reportedly "acquired OKBC's and several other capitals' investments […] when it was still the first partner of WeShare WiFi – a global leading WiFi sharing company. "The firm added WIPE's operations, nor in its "results."
OKBC has also pointed to the fact that OKEx had warned its users of the potential risks posed by WFEE in August and included WFEE in their first "Token Delisting / Hiding Guideline [sic]. "
So … what of the dumplings?
Amid the flurry of "twisted" media reports, one viral anecdote alleged that the band of investors had brought to hungry – and short-of-cash – Xu some sustenance, namely dumplings, as he underwent questioning at the police station. The story, despite its oddity, appears to have had some traction. Cointelegraph's Chinese sources, for their part, dismissed as out-of-hand as an unthinkable and breathless piece of confected hearsay.