A cyber criminal from Slough, UK, has been found guilty of an elaborate online fraud. The case involves one of first seizures of Bitcoin in Britain.
Fraudster Used Second Life to Launder Stolen Funds
Not only has Gabriele Pearson, 23, had around £50,000 worth of Bitcoin seized from him but he also faces 15 months in jail for the crime he was sentenced to last Wednesday. Commenting on the lack of precedent for such a case, the head of Surrey and Sussex’s Joint Cyber Crime Unit Detective Inspector Rob Walker said:
“We are proud to be among one the first Forces in the country to take this step and reunite a victim with what is rightfully theirs. Hopefully, this will be the first of many cases of this kind.”
Pearson had been using a stolen PayPal account to buy in-game currency on the virtual world simulator Second Life. He’d been able to find the details he used thanks to his position at an IT company. Using the stolen company account, he purchased Lindon Dollars before converting them to Bitcoin to withdraw funds from the online game.
According to the chief officer on the case, Paul Constable, Pearson was preparing the account he’d been using to step up his operation. This was what alerted the authorities. He stated:
“He primed the account to accept larger sums of cash but his offending was noticed while he was waiting for confirmation from PayPal that he could increase the transfer limit to £50,000. He was able to request this as he had accessed further private documents that meant he could bypass PayPal’s identification requirements.”
The offence dates back to December 2014. At the time, each of the 9.9 BTC Pearson had been able to obtain were worth around $250 each. At today’s rate, they’re now valued at close to £5o,000. There has been no word as to what the Surrey Police intend to do with the difference between the almost $2,500 Pearson stole and the £50,000 worth of goods they have seized.
This isn’t the first example of authorities accidentally profiting from the seizure of cryptocurrency. Late last year, we reported on the Bulgarian government landing themselves with approximately a fifth of their entire national debt in Bitcoin. The Eastern European nation was involved in an anti-corruption campaign that resulted in the seizure of 213,519 BTC. At the time, they were worth half a billion dollars. By December, when the story broke, the loot was valued at $3.6 billion. A nice windfall, indeed, providing they were able to time the market!
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