Criminals are never short of imagination when it comes to inventing new ways to steal. This spring, your cryptocurrencies are targeted, with a new type of aggression appearing in the City from London.
According to several police files that the British newspaper was able to consult exclusively The Guardian, cybercriminals are now coming to blows. Several victims had their mobile phones stolen, before discovering that through this means, the thieves had managed to steal substantial sums of money from their cryptocurrency wallet.
A half-physical, half-virtual attack
A first victim, for example, was attacked while holding her smartphone in her hand to order an Uber. The attackers took his phone, and ended up giving it back, but after stealing the equivalent of 5,000 pounds sterling (5,900 euros) in digital currency ethereum, via the Coinbase platform (online digital currency wallet and platform cryptocurrency exchange).
Another victim was approached by a group of people offering to sell him cocaine. He agreed to follow them into a small alley, and that’s when he found himself pressed against a wall, forced to unlock his smartphone by facial recognition. After gaining access, the cybercriminals transferred 6,000 pounds (7,000 euros) of ripple virtual currency from his account to theirs.
Some crypto investors have already been robbed of up to nearly 30,000 pounds (35,000 euros) through this new type of double physical and computer aggression.
“If I’m robbed and forced to do a wire transfer, the bank can trace where the money went and there are different ways to reverse the transaction. But if the money is transferred from one cryptocurrency wallet to another, there is no turning back”analyzes David Gerard, author of the book Attack on the 50 Foot Blockchain. It is this irreversibility of the crime that overmotivates thieves.
It should be noted that with regard to the nature of cryptocurrencies, since the transactions are recorded and cannot be modified on the blockchain, it is theoretically possible to trace the stolen money. The police generally carry out this work for very large sums of money (several million), but it is more complicated to set up these means for a large number of petty thefts.
Furthermore, the risk of crypto mugging (“aggression” in French) is exacerbated by the fact that virtual money is managed differently than physical money. “You wouldn’t be walking down the street counting a wad of 50 pound notes. It should be the same logic for crypto assets”concludes Phil Ariss, director of the cryptocurrency team of the cybercrime program of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (UK).