Crypto crime was a big deal in 2022, and while we’re only a few weeks into 2023, it looks like the trend is continuing after a criminal gang crackdown that resulted in close to $2 million in assets – some of which were crypto units – being seized by law enforcement officials.
Crypto Crime Takes on a New Form
Two men have allegedly been arrested in New Zealand for taking part in various drug dealings. Police came barging into the home they were both living in and seized roughly $1.9 million in various assets. Among them were, according to arrest statements, digital currencies and NFTs.
The pair – both aged 28 – were part of a group of six men that were all taken into custody for assorted drug offenses. They now face a series of charges including participating in organized crime and selling and supplying class A and B drugs.
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Asset Recovery Unit Detective Senior Sergeant Keith Kay explained in a recent interview:
Police secured restraining orders for these assets pursuant to the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act [of] 2009. Methamphetamine and other illicit drugs cause immense harm across our communities and are the drivers of crime, creating victims and distress throughout society. The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act enables police to not only recover criminal proceeds, but [it] also prevents criminals from reinvesting the proceeds of their crime to cause more harm.
In addition to the money and crypto that was taken, the Hamilton High Court has ordered that the men’s home – which is presently valued at close to $700K – be restrained. Police also confiscated several vehicles including a Harley Davidson motorcycle worth approximately $47,000 at press time.
While situations like these are not necessarily uncommon, crypto crime has – over the past few years – taken on different forms. For example, there have been many examples of romance scams in recent months, where fraudsters take on the form of individuals looking for love online. They snag victims and over time, convince them to begin engaging in crypto trades and investing on digital asset exchanges they control.
From there, the victims see their investments growing and they get excited, but when they try to make withdrawals, they can’t unless they’re willing to put more money into the platforms. Often, they never see their money again.
FTX Has Set the New Precedent
One of the biggest examples of crypto crime in recent history came in the shape of FTX, the fallen crypto exchange run by now former executive Sam Bankman-Fried. Coming to fruition in 2019, the exchange is believed to have been a haven for fraud as SBF is accused of utilizing customer funds to pay off loans accepted by his other company Alameda Research.
In addition, he is alleged to have purchased luxury Bahamian real estate with users’ money.
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