Chinese authorities have announced the arrest of three men suspected of stealing cryptocurrency worth around 600 million yuan ($87 million). Police in the Chinese city of Xian have described the case as the highest value crypto crime yet investigated in China.
Police were first alerted in March when a man came forward to report that his computer had been hacked and 100 million yuan worth of Bitcoin and Ethereum stolen. The case brought new challenges to a police force not used to this kind of crime.
“Our bureau has not dealt with this kind of case before,” one officer said, “it’s the first virtual currency-related case in [the province of] Shaanxi.”
Suspects all work at “top internet firms”
The three suspects are all said to work for “top internet firms” and to have studied hacking techniques since they were 12 or 13. According to police, the stolen funds were split up and transferred across multiple wallets to make them harder to trace.
Investigators say that they analysed 30,000 pieces of information and received help from domestic internet companies to track down the first suspect, a man called Zhou. Identifying the next two, named by authorities as Cui and Zhang, took another two months.
The gang have reportedly been working together for some time, stealing up to 600 million yuan by hacking the devices of individuals and companies.
The Chinese government has been particularly focused on clamping down on cryptocurrencies and ICOs. In February the Financial News, a publication with strong links to the People’s Bank of China, announced that access would be blocked to crypto-trading websites based outside of China. The aim, it said, was to snuff out “the dying cinders” of crypto trading and ICO investment “which are glowing once more.”
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