Crypto crimes have surged in recent years, with the UK recording over £225 million stolen by cybercriminals in 2022. While law enforcement agencies work hard to track down and convict these criminals, they often can not access the stolen funds.
The UK government recently crossed this hurdle by using a civil recovery order to seize over £750,000 worth of cryptocurrencies from a convicted hacker. A civil recovery order is a legal process that allows law enforcers to retrieve suspected proceedings of crime.
This latest confiscation is allegedly the first recorded case of using a civil recovery order to access a crypto wallet.
The UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reportedly collaborated with the Tarian Regional Economic Crime Unit to obtain the civil recovery order against a convicted hacker.
The local police force quickly swung into action upon receiving credible intelligence. They raided the hacker's family home, where they found and seized a black book containing twelve "recovery seeds."
Using the recovery seeds, the police accessed a crypto wallet with a significant amount of digital assets. Upon further investigation, they also found two more recovery seeds, which allowed them to future recover a smaller amount of crypto from another wallet.
The CPS immediately began their investigations, presenting multiple evidence linking the seized crypto assets, worth over £750,000, to the original hacking case. The agency requested a freeze order before the hacker was convicted to enable it to retrieve the stolen assets.
Speaking on the case, Adrian Foster, head of the CPS Proceeds of Crime division said, "The CPS is committed to depriving criminals of their ill-gotten gains and will use the Director of Public Prosecution’s civil powers to do so even where criminal proceedings are not brought…This criminal thought that he had managed to hide his crypto but, working with law enforcement, we were able to locate, seize, and recover this tainted property so that he could not benefit from his illicit wealth on release from prison."
The growing rate of crypto crimes in recent times has reinforced the urgent need for clear regulations in the industry. The UK government has been taking proactive steps to ensure that it regulates the crypto market in the country, promoting the growth of crypto businesses while protecting investors.
Earlier this month the country's National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed plans to expand its digital assets investigation team.