Sony: $154 million robbed and converted to Bitcoin returned by the FBI
Sony: $154 million robbed and converted to Bitcoin returned by the FBI
Bitcoin

Sony: $154 million robbed and converted to Bitcoin returned by the FBI

By Stefania Stimolo - 22 Dec 2021

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Tokyo-based Sony Group Corporation was robbed of $154 million by one of its employees, who converted it into Bitcoin. 

The US FBI filed a lawsuit two days ago to return the stolen sum after tracing and seizing them. 

Sony, $154 million in Bitcoin stolen and returned

According to the press release of the Department of Justice of the Southern of California, the FBI acted in the interest and protection of Sony Group Corporation, succeeding in tracing, seizing, and returning the sum of $154 million converted into 3,879 Bitcoin, valued today at more than $180 million, stolen by one of its employees. 

Rei Ishii is the name of the thieving employee of Sony’s subsidiary, Sony Life Insurance Company Ltd, who was allegedly arrested for theft. Basically, last May 2021, Ishii allegedly falsified the company’s transaction instructions and transferred the $154 million to an account at its bank in La Jolla, California. 

The investigation states that the employee would immediately convert the stolen sum into Bitcoin, but apparently, this move wasn’t enough to make him lose track. And in fact, the seizure warrant was authorized last June, the month after Ishii’s transaction. 

US FBI tracks Bitcoin 

The electronics giant only revised the amount it robbed this month after the FBI and law enforcement were able to track the Bitcoin transfers.

Basically, the US FBI was able to identify the approximately 3,879.16 Bitcoin, representing the proceeds of funds stolen from a Sony Life branch that had been transferred to a specific Bitcoin address and then to an offline cryptocurrency cold wallet.

In this regard, prosecutor Randy Grossman said:

“It is our intent to return the stolen money to the victim of this audacious theft, and today’s action helps us do that. This case is an example of amazing work by FBI agents and Japanese law enforcement, who teamed up to track this virtual cash. Criminals should take note: You cannot rely on cryptocurrency to hide your ill-gotten gains from law enforcement. The United States coordinates extensively with its international partners to forestall crime and retrieve stolen funds.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner also expressed her opinion as follows: 

“The FBI was able to recover these stolen funds for two very important reasons,” “First, Sony and Citibank immediately contacted and cooperated with law enforcement as soon as the theft was detected, and the FBI worked in partnership with both to locate the funds. Second, the FBI’s footprint internationally through our Legal Attaché offices and the pre-existing relationships we have established in foreign countries – in this instance with Japan – enabled law enforcement to coordinate and identify the subject. The FBI’s technical expertise was able to trace the money to the subject’s crypto wallet and seize those funds.”

Sony-Bitcoin
Sony is approaching the world of cryptocurrencies

The cryptocurrency betting patent

Although the US FBI’s message to criminals has been clear about “not relying” on cryptocurrencies to carry out thefts, electronics, and video game giant Sony instead reportedly applied for a patent on cryptocurrencies last September. 

This is a patent to allow its users to bet in video games, such as live matches, using cryptocurrencies. Specifically, Sony would apply for the registration of the ‘PlayStation’ trademark in Brazil to trade in cryptocurrencies. 

In fact, back in May 2021, Sony had filed a patent application with the United States Patent Office for a betting platform that could also accept Bitcoin. The subject of the patent was “e-sports betting platform,” a kind of multimedia digital casino.

Stefania Stimolo

Graduated in Marketing and Communication, Stefania is an explorer of innovative opportunities. She started out as a Sales Assistant for e-commerce, and in 2016 she began to develop a passion for the digital world, initially in the Network Marketing sector, where she discovered and became passionate about the ideals behind Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, which lead her to work as a copywriter and translator for ICO projects and blogs, and organize introductory courses.

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