Suspect Behind $11 Million Crypto Theft Arrested in Europol-Led Operation

An investigation by Europol and other police agencies has led to the arrest of a British suspect allegedly behind a spate of crypto thefts.

AccessTimeIconJan 24, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:50 a.m. UTC

An investigation by EU law enforcement agency Europol and British and German police agencies has led to the arrest of a 36-year-old man suspected of carrying out a spate of crypto thefts.

Europol announced Wednesday that the British man is suspected of stealing around €10 million ($11.34 million) worth of iota tokens in January 2018 from the wallets of over 85 victims worldwide.

An investigation was launched in early 2018 after reports a number of thefts from iota wallets in Germany. Hessen State Police ultimately traced the possible suspect to the U.K. and a coordinated operation led by the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce, hosted by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, was launched.

The UK’s South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and National Crime Agency (NCA) also participated in the operation.

The investigation found that the thefts took place by targeting users of a now-defunct website that created 81-digit security seeds for iota wallets, according to the announcement.

Europol said:

“Several victims created the seed on this website in good faith, however the seeds were stored in the background by the service provider. Later the criminal used these to gain access to the victims’ wallets and transferred their money to other wallets created with fake IDs.”

SEROCU arrested the man on suspicion of fraud, theft and money laundering in the city of Oxford yesterday and also seized a number of computers and electronic devices.

Back in September, Europol warned against the rising threats of crypto hacks, extortion and mining malware, saying that the holdings of those using digital currencies, as well as exchanges, are increasingly at risk as “criminal abuse” of the financial technology grows.

The agency also arrested 11 individuals last April for laundering more than €8 million (or $9 million) from Spain to Colombia through an unnamed cryptocurrency and credit cards via a Finnish crypto exchange.

Europol image via Shutterstock 


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.