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.