The Greater Manchester Police caught scammers passing through Manchester and uncovered millions invested in a phony savings and trading service worldwide.
A large amount of Ethereum money, the second-largest Cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, was discovered on USB sticks containing enormous amounts of information. The amount seized was approximately $22.25 million (around £16 million).
Reports indicate that victims in the United Kingdom, United States, Europe, China, Australia, and Hong Kong used the smart contract platform Binance Smart Chain to fund the alleged fake service.
After receiving a significant amount of money from victims and transferring the money to their accounts, the website operators reportedly shut down their site.
The alleged perpetrators were arrested after intelligence reports surfaced, but they have since been released under investigation.
Following the discovery of multiple USB sticks, the police seized a sum of $22.25 million. After finding a "cryptograph safety deposit box" and the code to open it a few days later, police found an additional $12.7 million. The stolen crypto amounted to 90% of the sum.
As reported by the Greater Manchester Police, the cops are currently working to return the stolen funds to the victims of the crypto scam. It is not yet known who some of the victims were.
In his remarks, Greater Manchester Police Detective Chief Inspector Joe Harrop mentioned that the police must adapt to new crypto-based crimes
“Blockchains, like Ethereum and Bitcoin, are increasingly automating finance and trading. The digital revolution has brought with it a new type of crime, and opportunistic criminals are taking advantage of these trends and any gaps in technology that can be exploited.
“As a force, we need to make sure we adapt to this new type of crime and demonstrate that there will be repercussions for any fraudulent activity, regardless of the platform."
GMP's Cyber Crime team detective Sergeant Pete Nuttall offers this advice for using cryptocurrency and other trading services: "Research any investment before investing money. These services can be very technical, and require in-depth knowledge to stay safe. There is no guarantee, so if you don't understand it, don't do it.".