UK Police seizes 2 Million USD in BTC from Drugs Trafficker
The Surrey County police department in the UK became the first in the country to confiscate more than 2 million dollars in Bitcoin (BTC), which they discovered after a careful investigation that lasted more than a one year.
According to information revealed by the police, the investigations began in 2017 when they received a report of an alleged kidnapping in April.
Upon investigating the complaint, they proceeded to search the victim’s home. As a result of this investigation, the hostage was identified as Seregjs Teresko. They also collected cash amounts of £220,575.02, €30,075 and ฿,040 (Thai baht) at home.
The authorities mention that Mr. Teresko contacted the police the next day, telling them that he was okay. When the authorities asked him about the massive amounts of cash, Mr. Teresko refused to explain himself.
This refusal aroused the suspicions of the research agencies, which decided to dig a little deeper. In a subsequent raid, they found that Mr. Teresko owned a cannabis factory.
As a result of these investigations, Teresko was arrested and pleaded guilty to money laundering, cultivation of cannabis and the possession/control of articles for use in fraud at Kingston Crown Court.
Seregjs Teresko was sentenced to nine years and three months imprisonment.
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Police authorities said they continued to investigate after the arrest and discovered a large number of valuable assets: credit cards with multiple names, fake IDs, expensive clothes, watches, jewelry, electronic equipment and gold bars.
They also discovered a hardware wallet…
The method used to access the content of the wallet is not very well explained; however, the authorities managed to obtain the private keys and millionaire funds that Teresko possessed:
“At this stage, it was unknown what was inside the Bitcoin wallet – if anything. With the support of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), who provided us with legal, tactical and technical assistance, we made a successful application at Magistrates Court under section 47 of POCA to seize the contents of the wallet.
To our astonishment, the account contained 295 Bitcoins which were moved into a wallet controlled exclusively by Surrey Police. This was the first time that this specific POCA legislation was used in the UK to seize cryptocurrency.
Shortly after, an application by the CPS was made to grant us legal permission to restrain (control) and realise (convert) the Bitcoins. It was ruled that the Bitcoins were ‘realisable property,’ so we decided to convert the Bitcoin into pound sterling, enabling the amount to be confiscated under POCA.”
Members of the police hope that this critical achievement will serve as a lesson to all those crypto-criminals. Detective Inspector Matthew Durkin, of the Economic Crime Unit, said:
“I hope this sends a clear message to criminals using bitcoin to fund illegal activities; it’s not an anonymous as you think, we are able to trace you, and we will prosecute (you)”