Police arrest 3 Bulgarians in $5M crypto theft case

Authorities in Bulgaria arrested three suspects who were believed to have stolen cryptocurrencies worth $5 million, Reuters reported.

According to the interior ministry and prosecutors’ office, the three appeared to have good knowledge of cryptocurrency trading, which they used along with “innovative methods” as well as “specialized software” in their operations.

Two of the three suspects were taken into police custody “by order of the Specialized Criminal Court,” while the third paid “cash guarantee” amounting to BGN50,000 ($28,900).

During the arrest, police found cryptocurrencies worth $3 million, computers used to conduct the theft, flash drives, and many notebooks listing accounts of people real and fictitious used for the operation. Police seized a car worth about BGN60,000 ($34,700) from the location.

Over the years, Bulgarian officials have seized numerous cryptocurrencies all related to criminal activities. The $3 million worth of cryptocurrencies taken by Bulgarian officials could be added to the country’s growing stash of cryptocurrency. Last year, authorities managed to collect over 213,000 BTC. Experts believe Bulgaria is sitting on one of the world’s most massive crypto stash valued at over $800 million at today’s prices.

According to a report by CipherTrace, a U.S.-based cyber security firm, theft of cryptocurrencies through hacking of exchanges and trading platforms soared to $927 million in the first nine months of the year. These new figures are up nearly 250 percent from the level seen in 2017.

Earlier this year, Japanese exchange Coincheck had over $530 million worth of crypto stolen. Bitgrail, another exchange in Italy, lost $195 million. The frequency, severity, and amount of cryptocurrency being stolen is only increasing.

On Nov. 14, a 21-year-old man was arrested by the U.S. federal agents for allegedly stealing $1 million of cryptocurrency from a Silicon Valley executive. The young man is believed to have hacked the executive’s phone. The 21-year-old, who used a SIM-swapping scheme to steal the cryptocurrencies, victimized six others, resulting in his arrest. He is now facing 21 counts of felony charges.

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Officials in Bulgaria arrested for selling passports for crypto

It appears as though a small handful of enterprising government officials out of Bulgaria were looking to make some extra money on the side. The Bulgarian police have busted a ring for selling passports in exchange for Bitcoin Core (BTC).

The country’s Prosecutor’s General Office has arrested General Secretary Krasimir Tomov, an official with the Bulgarian State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, Peter Haralampiev, and an agency employee, Mark Stoyov. The arrests were confirmed by the Chief Prosecutro of the State, Ivan Geshev, who said, “Peter Haralampiev, Krasimir Tomov, and Mark Stoyov have been arrested for fraud with the issuance of Bulgarian passports to Ukrainian, Moldovan and Macedonian citizens.”

Lawyers representing the accused have denied the allegations, but the prosecutor’s office affirms that it has evidence that the trio issued passports in exchange for unauthorized payments through cryptocurrency. The arrests are just the latest in a scandal that has rocked the country.

20 people were recently detained in Bulgaria for allegedly selling passports to individuals from Macedonia, Ukraine and Moldova. They charged around $5,600 per passport and the continued corruption has many in Bulgaria calling for Vice Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov to step down. Simeonov has said that he will not be held responsible for the corruption and refuses to give up his power.

Bulgaria has been a member of the European Union (EU) since 2007. As a member, it can issue EU passports that give the holders rights to travel and live in other EU countries with virtually no restrictions.

Fake passport rings in the EU have been busted before. Two years ago, Europol broke up a ring operating out of Greece with an office in the Czech Republic. The group was led by citizens out of Ukraine, Sudan and Bangladesh.

In addition to passports, the group would also issue residency permits and driver’s licenses and fees varied from type of document and origin of the solicitor. Someone out of Africa, Asia or the Middle East would pay as much as $4,300 for a passport, while a European citizen would be forced to pay more than $10,000.

Additionally, a Polish criminal gang was busted for issuing Polish passports to Ukrainian citizens and then illegally transporting them to the UK.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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