On Friday, four individuals from Lancashire, England, were convicted of a massive crypto-related fraud worth more than $24 million. According to reports, the group made off with 445 Bitcoin amounting to a whopping $24 million in just three months in 2017. Authorities were able to seize the stolen funds shortly after.
Reportedly, the group was so successful in their fraudulent activities that the ringleader allegedly purchased cars for random people he met at a pub with his illicit gains. The Lancashire Police, the force behind prosecuting this case, conducted a collaborative investigation with international organizations such as Australia and Finland’s law enforcement alongside Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service.
Last Friday, the group was handed down their sentences after being found guilty last year of a variety of crimes, such as converting criminal property and conspiring to commit fraud.
In 2021, the suspected mastermind of this criminal enterprise, James Parker, passed away before receiving his sentence. Detective Sergeant David Wainwright from Lancashire Police’s Fraud Unit commented that “the magnitude of the fraud was simply incredible and left these criminals with more money than they knew what to do with.”
One of the sentenced, Stephen Boys, testified in court that he used £1 million ($1.23 million) cash stored in a suitcase to purchase a villa from Russians whom he encountered at the back office of an estate agent and also paid £60,000 ($74,000) for assistance with laundering the stolen money by making payments to officials from another nation.
Moreover, the police asserted to have confiscated expensive watches, real estate, automobiles, and designer products, including a £600 ($740) refrigerated wine cooler from the criminal group.
Cryptocurrency Crimes on the Rise in the UK
This enormous fraud case in Lancashire may appear startling, yet they are not the only Brits profiting from crypto scams. The UK’s National Crime Agency recently revealed that in just one year, they confiscated nearly £27 million ($33 million) worth of various cryptocurrencies. Also, this staggering number is especially noteworthy, considering it was zero the previous financial year.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has established the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) Crypto Cell to launch a new investigation into cryptocurrency-related crimes. The unit is seeking talented individuals with relevant experience in this field.