Greater Manchester Police’s Economic Crime Unit of the United Kingdom has conducted a seizing of around $22.25 million after intelligence inquiries found USB sticks with significant amounts of Ethereum (ETH). According to the announcement made by the officials, investigators found $9.5 million worth of ETH, detailing that $12.7 million was found afterwards, without specifying which kinds of cryptocurrency it was.
The operation was made in the context of a crackdown of a crypto-related scam that operated fake savings and trading service, whose victims were based in the UK, United States, Europe, China, Australia and Hong Kong, the police said. The fraudsters told victims that they were relying on Binance Smart Chain to handle all the transactions.
“The scammers operating the service waited until a significant amount of money had been deposited before shutting down their website and transferring the funds into their own accounts. Unfortunately for them, the scammers did not disappear without a trace. Specialist officers received intelligence that those running the scheme had been in Manchester for a limited time and tracked them down, recovering an encrypted USB stick containing $9.5 million of stolen Ethereum,” the Economic Crime Unit commented.
That said, Greater Manchester Police arrested a 23-year-old male and a 25-year female for fraud and money laundering offences. However, they were released as the investigation is underway. Now, the police are facing a challenge, as they are searching for the victims to return the recovered funds.
“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. With that comes a new type of crime, and we’re seeing a rise in opportunist criminals looking to exploit these trends as well as any gaps in the technology that can be manipulated,” Joe Harrop, Detective Chief Inspector of Greater Manchester Police’s Economic Crime Unit, pointed out.
Recently, in June, detectives from the UK Metropolitan Police’s Economic Crime Command conducted the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the country, and it is believed to be one of the largest globally. Specifically, the authorities seized £114 million ($158.8 million) worth in digital assets, reportedly related to a money laundering case.