Police in China Arrest Hacker, Recover $460,000 in Stolen Bitcoin
The police in China have apprehended a thief who hacked into the email of a Bitcoin owner and stole his funds through multiple transactions. The incident which happened in the Jiangxi province of eastern China is the latest among a couple of cryptocurrency thefts that have taken place recently within the region.
Following an inter-provincial investigation, police in Xiushui County apprehended the Bitcoin thief, Zeng in the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The investigation began after the original Bitcoin owner, a local of Jiangxi province, reported that his email which was linked to his Bitcoin wallet had been hacked.
According to a report by the police, tracing the transaction and tracking down the Bitcoin thief was not an easy task. Due to the unique nature of Bitcoin transactions, and the fact that they only exist on the blockchain network, a special approach was required in gathering and analyzing information during the investigation.
The task was executed by the Joint Cyber Security Brigade of Shanghang Police Station, Public Security Bureau of Xiushui County. More than 20 phone numbers were discovered to be associated with the hacked email, all of which were illegally obtained on the dark web from cybercriminals.
The hacked Bitcoin wallet had 8.236 Bitcoins, which Zeng transferred to his wallet in over 30 different transactions using numerous phone numbers. This was all in an attempt to make it difficult to trace and track his moves.
Indeed, tracing the transactions and tracking him down was no easy task. However, by deploying “big data screening and analysis”, the joint police team was able to track him down and get him arrested.
Zeng has confessed to the crime and is currently being detained by the Xiushui County Public Security Bureau according to law. He has also confessed to a conspiracy with other members of his gang in carrying out such nefarious activities. More investigations are being carried out by the police.
The case of Zeng proves that Bitcoin transactions are not completely anonymous and untraceable as most people make it seem. Of course, there is a tint of pseudo-anonymity and the absence of regulation in most blockchain-based transactions. However, with patience and expertise, Bitcoin transactions can be traced.
Therefore, the excuse of using Bitcoin to carry out untraceable transactions cannot be completely true. Transactions on the blockchain are timestamped, immutable, and transparent. Tracing their physical origin and destination might take time and resources, but in the end, results can be achieved, just like the Police in Jiangxi.
This recovery by the police in China could serve as an eye-opener for law enforcement agencies across the globe. It could present as a proof of the possibility of tracking down fraudulent and unpermitted transactions in the Bitcoin network and the blockchain ecosystem in general.
Perhaps, by establishing robust monitoring and investigative systems, jurisdictions across the world could become more tolerant of cryptocurrency transactions. We may begin to see the adoption of proper regulatory frameworks, rather than the bans and restrictions that abound in different parts of the world, including China.
During a Repatriation ceremony, the hacking victim, Shan Mou made two special pennants and presented them to the police handling the case as a sign of appreciation.