At first glance, cryptocurrency and its circulation are full of contradictions. On the one hand, it is an asset, and it has value. On the other hand, it is not currency, not money, and even not electronic money. Cryptocurrency is called anonymous, but every transaction can be viewed by anyone at any time. The activity of crypto platforms in many countries is practically not regulated by legislation and not controlled by state authorities or even prohibited. However, state authorities handle abduction cases, and the mentioned crypto platforms often contribute to such investigations.
Painful cases of cryptocurrency theft
One of the criteria for an effective fight against the enemy is to know him well, so let’s review high-profile, cynical, and rather painful cases of cryptocurrency theft.
The Year 2016 – cybercriminals stole about 120,000 units of cryptocurrency from the Hong Kong exchange platform Bitfnex, equivalent to 72 million US dollars at that time. Bitgo’s asset protection system failed.
In 2018, the famous video blogger Ian Balin lost about 2 million US dollars, which were stolen out of his wallet in various forms of cryptos during the stream.
There are hundreds of cases like that, and thousands even did not come to the public domain. As we can see, the methods of thieves are different – from an open robbery attack to severe hacker attacks.
Also, there are many similar stories in our practice. During the only last month, we have received reports of crypto thefts of more than $5 million in total.
How does an hour of procrastination equal $100 000?
Between 01:30 and 02:00 in the morning, more than 400 ETH were withdrawn from client wallets. The abduction and gaps in the security system became known after more than 10 hours, and a lot of time has already been lost. The lucky hacker, who broke the security system and obtained Ethereum, began to do everything to hide the traces of the crime. Blender, various exchangers, dozens of transactions – everything was done by the hacker to withdraw the stolen crypto and cover his tracks safely.
A client contacted us for help when more than 12 hours had passed since the abduction. We formed an algorithm of actions and contacted the law enforcement officers. 13 hours after the crime, that is, an hour after contacting us, criminal proceedings were initiated, and part of the stolen assets was “caught” and frozen, further transferred by the perpetrator was blocked.
And that hour from contacting us, registering a criminal investigation, and freezing part of the stolen Ethereum, allowed us to return the equivalent of $100,000 from the stolen crypto to the client.
How we managed to save the client’s assets so quickly?
Each lawyer has many tools with which he can help his client. However, most conventional legal algorithms don’t work regarding cryptocurrency. Even more, in cryptocurrency investigations, it is not essential which country’s legislation to use – maximum decentralization, which is both fascinating and frightening.
We use potent mechanisms to “catch” stolen crypto and return it to its owner.
When it comes to theft, whether it’s a car, a wallet, or a cell phone, you definitely should get the help of a lawyer. If we are talking about cryptocurrency theft, you should contact an analyst who will trace the entire scheme of transactions and tell you where your assets went.
The combination of these two specialists in one makes it possible to quickly, correctly, and efficiently trace the path of the stolen crypto. After that, translate it into a language understandable to jurisprudence. Work out the legal part, such as applying to law enforcement agencies and conducting all necessary investigative actions, obtaining a court decision, and then translating jurisprudence in the opposite direction – into the language of cryptocurrency and return stolen.
It’s not lost even when time has passed since the theft
Criminals are often overestimated and idealized. Victims believe the stolen assets are safely hidden or withdrawn in fiat, and it is useless even to try. However, in 7 out of 10 crypto investigations, the criminal allowed the crypto to “stand up” somewhere in a quiet place and made mistakes by revealing the location of the stolen item or even his own. As a result, the traps we set worked, and after a few months, we managed to return what was lost.
In summary, we can say that cryptocurrency has long taken its place on the world market. But like any asset, it needs protection.
The client’s location is irrelevant for conducting a crypto investigation, specifically in Ukraine. Therefore, it doesn’t matter where you are regarding cryptocurrency theft. The main thing is to conduct a quick and effective investigation.
In cases involving the theft of crypto, time plays against you, but even over time, you should not give up. There is always a chance to return the stolen.
Stanislav Boris, counsel Juscutum
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