A man from the British city of Oxford has been taken into custody by police following allegations of crypto fraud.
The man, who has not been named, has been accused of a variety of crimes including money laundering, fraud and theft. He is aged 36 years old.
According to Europol, which is one of the law enforcement authorities involved in the joint investigation, the man was wanted following an incident involving the theft of €10 million or so from the cryptocurrency called IOTA.
It is believed that more than 85 victims from across the globe have been affected by the theft since the start of 2018.
According to Europol, police in the German state of Hessen first raised the alarm after members of the public approached them with concerns about money going missing from their online wallets.
“Further investigations revealed the existence of fraud from the website Iotaseed.io, targeting the users of the IOTA cryptocurrency”, said Europol’s statement.
“IOTA wallets are protected by an 81 digit seed, which can be generated using seed-generators found online, such as on the official IOTA website. Among the sites promoted online was a malicious seed-generator running on iotaseed.io.
“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”, the police force said.
The man who was arrested, however, was provisionally identified as far back as July 2018 – and a cross-border investigation hence began.
“In July 2018, German authorities identified a possible suspect behind the fraud case living in the UK. The case was given to the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) hosted at Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), where analytical support delivered allowed the J-CAT to coordinate the international cooperation between the different EU Member States involved”, Europol said.
It also added that face to face meetings took place in order to facilitate the exchange of intelligence.
“In addition, an operational meeting was organised at Europol’s headquarters between German and British investigators and Europol’s EC3. The meeting proved to be an invaluable asset for the smooth exchange of intelligence and evidence between the German and British authorities, which has led to this arrest”, it added.
During the arrest, which took place yesterday on Wednesday 23rd January, the man was taken into custody while a number of electronic items – including computers – were taken for examination.
In a video posted on the Europol website, investigators were seen to find substances and cash at the address of the accused. These were seized and taken for examination.
A search warrant had been issued for the purpose.
The investigation was carried out in conjunction with a number of other agencies, including the National Crime Agency in the UK. Germany’s Hessen State Police also helped, in conjunction with the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) back in the UK.