two suspected cryptocurrency thieves indicted

The two people were taken into custody on Friday.

Le Figaro Bordeaux

The fraudsters pretended to be wealthy investors called Richard von Stein, Alexandre Karlstein or even Philippe Pictet. They arranged to meet their victims in luxurious establishments. Places that are always located outside the country of residence of the contacted persons. The scam consisted of the criminals exchanging a suitcase of fake banknotes for cryptocurrencies (bitcoins, ethereums, USD coins). By the time the blackmailers realized the deception, their phones had already been hacked to obtain the private key or recovery code for their digital wallets. Funds which were then laundered via the blockchain (the public ledger that allows cryptocurrency transactions to be verified, ed).

In July 2019, a first report established the theft of more than one million euros in crypto-assets in Milan (Italy). Other facts committed in 2022 allowed the alleged offenders to appropriate another 500,000 euros. Arrested on Tuesday, December 6, two people were presented before an investigating judge on Friday. They were charged by the Specialized Interregional Jurisdiction (JIRS) in Bordeaux for “organized gang fraud, money laundering, criminal association, use of false administrative documents” and “refusal to unlock their phones”. They were placed in custody, the judicial institution clarifies.

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A special jurisdiction and five gendarmerie units mobilized

The searches of the suspects’ homes, carried out simultaneously in the Paris region, in Megève (Switzerland) and in Cannes (Côte d’Azur), thanks to the joint forces of the Central Office for the Fight against Serious Financial Crime (OCRGDF) and JIRS of Paris, made it possible to seize “58,000 euros in cash, two Porsches, a Bentley, a luxury watch estimated at 50,000 euros and the equivalent of 280,000 euros in crypto assets“.

Led by the Bordeaux JIRS public prosecutor’s office, the preliminary investigation required the issuance of a European Investigation Order and the assistance of five gendarmerie units (Center for the Fight against Digital Crime, Gendarmerie des Alpes-Maritimes and the research sections of Bordeaux, Marseille and Paris).

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