In a joint operation by the UK South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and the the Hessen State Police in Germany, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and Europol, a 36 year-old suspect has been arrested in Oxford for fraud, theft and money laundering tied to the theft of around €10 million in the IOTA cryptocurrency.
Money was reported stolen from 85 victims’ cryptocurrency wallets in early 2018; Hessen State Police discovered the fraud occurred via the Iotaseed.io website, targeting users of the IOTA cryptocurrency. IOTA wallets are protected by an 81 digit seed, which can be generated using seed-generators found online, such as on the official IOTA website.
Among the sites promoted online was a malicious seed-generator running on iotaseed.io. Victims who created the seed on this website had their seeds stored by the criminal who used these to access to the victims’ wallets and transferred their money to other wallets created with fake IDs.
In July 2018, German authorities identified a possible suspect living in the UK and transferred the case to the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) based at Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), who coordinated international cooperation between EU Member States and particularly between German and British investigators and Europol’s EC3, which led to the arrest.