A scammer who sold people’s personal details on the dark web has been ordered to forfeit $1.12 million worth of Bitcoin. Grant West, also known as “Courvoisier “, gathered sensitive information about individuals using a phishing scam targeting a popular online takeaway ordering service and other well-known British retailers.
The investigation and subsequent confiscation is the reportedly the first time that the Metropolitan Police have seized cryptocurrency from an individual. Precise details of how West stored the digital currency are not known at present.
Met. Police Seize Bitcoin from Phishing Scam Artist
According to a report in UK news publication the Daily Mail, Grant West launched his phishing campaign against users of the food delivery online middleman Just-Eat. He also targeted customers of other popular British retailers, including Asda, Uber, and Argos.
The scam ran between August and December, 2015. West would email victims offering money off vouchers in return for them answering questions relating to their accounts. Naturally, the emails were made to look as much like they came from the companies in question as possible. This lent an air of greater legitimacy to the correspondence.
Once he had taken details from a victim, West sold them for Bitcoin via the now-defunct Dark Web marketplace, AlphaBay. On the platform, he went by the name of “Courvoisier”.
West was arrested in May for a string of offences relating the the phishing scam. On a police raid, the authorities found digital storage devices containing almost 80 million password and username combinations, as well as the credit card details of 63,000 users,
Also during the raids, police seized almost $2 million worth of Bitcoin. The value of the confiscated cryptocurrency has since decreased to approximately $1.2 million. The Metropolitan Police claim this to be the first seizure of its kind in the UK.
A UK court today ordered that West must pay back individuals and businesses impacted by the phishing scam. The prosecutor, Kevin Barry, stated:
“I therefore order confiscation of that amount, £915,305.77, to be paid by way of confiscation to losers or be jailed for four years.”
He added that West was no longer in control of the assets in question.
It is not clear how exactly West stored his cryptocurrency. However, it appears that he must have practised less than perfect personal security measures.
For authorities to have access to his cache of digital assets, they must first have found the private key or seed phrase associated with his storage solution. When stored optimally, cryptocurrency would require extortion or physical coercion to confiscate.
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