Gendarmerie forces, a policing wing of the Bulgarian judiciary, have arrested three suspects alleged to have been involved in stealing $5 million in cryptocurrency. The 3 were arrested on Monday, November 26 with the help of Bulgarian specialized prosecutors. They are alleged to have hacked into digital coin wallets through sim swapping.
The police were able to confiscate and seize cryptocurrency worth close to $3 Million. They also recovered equipment used during the hacking including computers, flash drives and a hardware portfolio for storage of crypto data. Authorities also recovered notes onto which the details outlining different crypto accounts had been written. They also found notebooks listing accounts of people, real and fictitious, used in the scam.
Advanced computer hacks
Apart from the notebooks, the prosecutors also confiscated a car that was allegedly purchased with stolen funds and worth about 60,000 in Bulgarian Lev (BGN) which translates to around $35,000. According to the prosecutors, the suspects implemented new hacking methods and performed advanced computer skills in the scam. The criminals also used specialized software for the hacking scheme.
Previously, California-based law enforcement group REACT Task Force reported that SIM swapping has become one of its highest priorities in a bid to fight cryptocurrency fraud. The prosecutors reportedly launched the investigation five months ago, shortly after being informed about the first case of the alleged scam. The suspects are currently imprisoned by order of a local specialized court.
Three Bulgarians were arrested and charged over the theft of cryptocurrencies worth about $5 million, the interior ministry and prosecutors office and said on Monday. According to the prosecutors, the suspects were well versed in cryptocurrency trading. Their methods were said to have been innovative, going ahead to use specialized software in the theft.
Cryptocurrency thefts on the rise
The arrests come in the wake of increased cryptocurrency theft in the country. Just last week, authorities in the state of California arrested a 21-year old man from New York for the alleged theft of $1 million in crypto in a SIM-swapping scheme. The hacking method involves the stealing of a cell phone number in order to hijack online financial and social media accounts.
According to a report from U.S.-based cyber security firm Cipher Trace released last month, theft of cryptocurrencies through hacking of exchanges and trading platforms soared to $927 million in the first nine months of the year, up nearly 250 percent from the level seen in 2017.
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