Crypto Hacker Arrested for Stealing $11.3M in IOTA (MIOTA)
Europol coordinated the international police operation, which involved the participation of German and UK authorities.
EU law enforced agency Europol has arrested a 36-year-old crypto hacker in an international police operation, a press release on Wednesday revealed. The unidentified man stole IOTA (MIOTA) coins worth 10 million euro ($11.3 million) over the last 12 months, defrauding more than 85 people around the world.
The hacker has been arrested on suspicion of having committed theft, money laundering, and fraud. The UK South East Regional Organized Crime Unit (SEROCU), the British National Crime Agency (NCA), and the Hessen State Police in Germany participated in the operation. Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) coordinated the investigation.
Around a year ago, German authorities launched the inquiry after several crypto holders in Hessen reported missing MIOTA coins from their virtual asset wallets. The probe showed that the tokens were stolen via iotaseed.io. In July 2018, German investigators identified the criminal behind the site and the scheme as a 36-year-old man.
“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,” Europol said in its press release.
Since the hacker currently lives in the UK city of Oxford, the British authorities joined the investigation. On Wednesday, the SEROCU stormed his home, arrested the suspect, and seized his computers and other crypto-related electronic devices. Europol did not reveal whether the stolen MIOTA coins were in the confiscated devices.
Currently, IOTA ranks at number 13 on the cryptocurrency market capitalization list with $812 million in value. As at 11:07 UTC on Thursday, the asset was changing hands at $0.29, down 4.06% on a daily basis, according to Coinmarketcap data.
Europol has led several pan-European operations involving digital assets. In June 2018, the agency conducted the biggest anti-LSD operation in the EU, seizing 4.5 million euro ($5 million) in Bitcoin (BTC), Stellar Lumens (XLM), and MIOTA used by criminals for trading via the Darknet.