$87 million cryptocurrency theft busted in China, three hackers arrested

$87 million cryptocurrency theft busted in China, three hackers arrested

Government authorities in China have been cracking down hard on crypto-theft for the last few years, and now yet another instance of such cyber crimes has come to light. According to the Xinhua news agency, three individuals have been apprehended by a special police task-force in a nationwide sting operation.

It all began with a complaint filed on March 30 by an individual identified only by his surname Zhang. He claimed to local police in the city of Xi’an that he had fallen victim to a cyber-attack, with hackers clearing his computer of cryptoholdings worth up to 100 million yuan ($14.5 million).

The task force, working alongside internet service providers across the country, were able to finally come up with a suspect named Zhou and two accomplices – Cui and Zhang.

After months of careful observing and coordination between multiple police forces around China, the three suspects were arrested on the 15th of August in Hunan, Changchun and Beijing. All three of them turned out to be hackers with years of experience behind them and a haul of approximately 600 million yuan ($87 million) to show for it.

As was mentioned above, the last few months have seen in China a number of crypto scam-operations being blown apart by the authorities. What caught most attention was the mining program that was discovered by the security team of the WeChat social media platform. It had been embedded in free downloads and more than 4 million computers have been infected. The scammers (group of twenty) had been offering “better computer performance” for clients, before it came to light that the downloads contained malware. The scheme had been in play since at least 2015 and had brought profits of about 15 million yuan to the perpetrators.

The Chinese government is pretty ambiguous when it comes to blockchain software. Even though it spends considerable resources  in clearing out the industry – with police even raiding a legitimate crypto conference in Shanghai – it has begun to compel regional authorities to accelerate blockchain development. Since the start of 2018, more than 3000 new companies have been registered in China with the word “blockchain” appearing somewhere in their brands.

This new change in the narrative of the police force concerning cryptos can be seen in the US as well. In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, Lilia Infante, an agent with the Cyber Investigative Task Force at the US Drug Enforcement Administration, said, “The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people,” and further stated that she hopes criminal actors continue using crypto-currencies.

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