This was reported by the Manchester Evening News, as the seizure was carried out by Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
The seizure of funds
The scam, which operated worldwide, was foiled last year, in July, and officers from GMP’s Economic Crime Unit seized a number of USB sticks containing ETH with a total value at the time of around $22.25 million.
A few days later, they also found a Cryptograph safe deposit box, and the code to access it, with another $12.7 million.
The cops were able to locate and seize the funds thanks to a tip alerting them that the indicted service providers were temporarily in Manchester. A 23-year-old boy and a 25-year-old girl were also arrested for fraud and money laundering and released pending further investigation.
Repayments in progress
Since the recovery of the funds, law enforcement agencies have been contacted by 150 victims, 23 of whom have been reimbursed a total of £4 million ($5.4 million) in recent days. The other 127 are waiting to hear whether they too will be reimbursed.
The victims are British, American, European, Chinese and Australian.
The fraudsters had collected the victims’ deposits until they closed their website and transferred all the funds to their own accounts. However, they did not manage to lose their tracks, and were eventually discovered by investigators.
Their service promised victims to repay their investments with a token that could be resold on the market.
Unfortunately, this is not the only case of a crypto scam involving unsuspecting investors who are taken in by trivial promises of profit. The fact is that it turns out to be quite rare that such scammers are eventually caught and arrested, and even rarer that the victims are reimbursed.
This case is therefore one of the very few cases of crypto scams in which the victims were eventually reimbursed, also because the seizure was made shortly after the exit scam, and law enforcement managed to gain access to many of the stolen funds.
In many cases, it is either the law enforcement agencies that fail to find out who the fraudsters are, or they fail to find the funds and seize them. In order to seize the funds, it is necessary to be able to move them, and to do this, the private keys of the addresses on which they are stored are absolutely necessary.