UK Police Recover $22M in Stolen Crypto From Scammers

Police are looking to return the stolen assets to their owners, who are located around the world.

Aug 17, 2021 at 6:54 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:41 p.m. UTC

U.K. police have seized $22.2 million in cryptocurrency and made two arrests after specialist officers learned of a scheme in Greater Manchester that led to the discovery of USB sticks containing significant amounts of ethereum.

  • The police allege that victims were tricked into depositing their savings into what they thought was an online savings and trading service using Binance Smart Chain.
  • Police said they arrested a 23-year-old male and a 25-year-old female for alleged fraud and money laundering offenses. Both have since been released under investigation.
  • The Greater Manchester Police's (GMP) Economic Crime Unit reported a total of $9.5 million of stolen ethereum was discovered in USB sticks taken from ​​victims in the Australia, China, Europe, Hong Kong, the U.K. and the U.S.
  • The police discovered an additional $12.7 million a few days later after finding a cryptograph safety deposit box, a type of online safe, including its access code.
  • "Our lives are increasingly moving online or onto our phones, and currencies like bitcoin and ethereum are often seen as the future when it comes to money and trading,” Detective Chief Inspector Joe Harrop of Greater Manchester Police's Economic Crime Unit said in a statement.  "With that comes a new type of crime and we're seeing a rise in opportunist criminals looking to exploit these trends.”
  • Police said they have started returning the stolen assets to the rightful owners, some of whom are still unknown.


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.