A 23-Year-Old Woman Is First Aussie Ever Charged For Cryptocurrency Theft
A Sydney woman has been charged after almost $500,000 of cryptocurrency was allegedly stolen through high-tech identity fraud.
NSW Police are warning investors the theft of digital assets will soon become commonplace.
Cybercrime detectives launched an investigation in January after a 56-year-old man was locked out of a trading account and had 100,000 units of Ripple stolen.
At the time the holdings were worth about $450,000. The volatile nature of cryptocurrency means it's currently worth about $64,000.
It appears the victim's email account had been hacked a month before the theft in December.
By the time he regained control of his email and trading accounts, the Ripple had been transferred to a Chinese exchange, converted into Bitcoin, and sent on to multiple electronic wallets.
It has since disappeared into the complex, sometimes entirely opaque network of currencies and accounts that make up the crypto environment.
Riot squad police on Thursday morning nabbed a 23-year-old woman during a raid at a home at Epping.
Commander Arthur Katsogiannis warned this type of crime would "become the new norm".
Officers seized computers, hard drives, mobile phones and documents while searching the home.
The Cybercrime squad would not confirm if she acted alone but said the woman had particular skills that helped her carry out the theft.
"It's a very significant crime and it's the first we know of its type in Australia where an individual has been arrested and charged for the technology- enabled theft of cryptocurrency," cybercrime squad Commander Arthur Katsogiannis told reporters in Sydney.
But, he warned, this type of crime would "become the new norm".
"This is where the criminal environment will expand and become ever more dangerous particularly for people in the community trying to invest their monies in cryptocurrency," Detective Superintendent Katsogiannis said. "Personal information is a very valuable commodity to the criminals and it should be treated and secured as you would cash."
It's a very significant crime and it's the first we know of its type in Australia.
The woman was charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime and granted conditional bail to appear at Burwood Local Court on November 19.
Detective Superintendent Katsogiannis said regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges, with verification around traders, was a goal for government and law enforcement agencies in NSW.