The UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) recently convicted four people for fraudulently obtaining and laundering over £21 million worth of crypto from an Australian-based crypto exchange.
According to an official press release, the CPS noted that the defendants, 58-year-old Stephen William, 44-year-old Kelly Caton, 23-year-old Jordan Kane Robinson, and 27-year-old James Austin-Beddoes, had collaborated with the mastermind behind the scheme, James Parker, to exploit the unnamed exchange.
Per the release, between October 2017 and January 2018, Parker and his colleagues discovered a loophole that allowed him to illegally obtain up to £21 million worth of crypto on the exchange's trading platform.
While the scheme lasted, Parker withdrew over £15 million in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from his trading account. Caton and Robinson also dishonestly withdrew £2.7 million and £1.7million respectively, from their accounts.
The fraudsters laundered the crypto assets via several foreign online accounts to cover their tracks. They then contacted a Dubai-based financial adviser to convert the crypto assets into cash.
Unfortunately, Parker died in January 2021 before he could be prosecuted. The CPS, however, partnered with multiple law enforcement agencies to identify the assets he acquired using the ill-gotten money.
Speaking on the case, Jonathan Kelleher, the specialist prosecutor for the CPS said, "These offenders used the internet from the comfort of their own homes to obtain tens of millions of pounds worth of Bitcoin which did not belong to them. Cyber-enabled crime presents an increasing threat to international economic stability, as well as to honest individual investors in cryptocurrency."
The defendants were found guilty of fraud, converting and transferring criminal property. They are due to be sentenced on 9 September 2022.
The CPS noted that a significant portion of the laundered funds has been returned to the Australian crypto exchange. They are also making conscious efforts to recover the remaining funds.
"This was a large and complex case in which these offenders have now been brought to justice. I would like to thank everyone who worked as a team, together with our partner agencies, to achieve this successful outcome," DS David Wainwright of the Lancashire Police said.
As the popularity of cryptocurrencies continues to increase at a breakneck pace, the industry has witnessed a surge in the number of crypto-related crimes.
Law enforcement agencies from different parts of the world have continued to up their efforts in tracking down these criminals. Earlier in February, the Greater Manchester Police returned over £4 million in confiscated crypto to victims of an international cryptocurrency scam.