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Japan has decided to set up a new agency to better address cybercrime. The Tokyo-based center gathers 500 analysts and investigators who will also combat cryptocurrency theft. Over 3 million attempts to steal digital information have been registered last year. Hackers have stolen funds worth over 17 billion Japanese yen.
$ 6.3 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency Stolen Before Coincheck
The new law enforcement unit is expected to streamline efforts to combat cybercrime. The center will operate from Tokyo. Over 500 analysts and investigators from different branches of Japanese police and other security services will work at the new agency, Kyodo reported. Authorities hope to address the internet security issues in a more efficient way.
Last year alone, hackers stole ¥17 billion JPY ($ 166 million USD). That includes ¥662 million ($ 6.3 million) worth of cryptocurrency. The amount does not cover the funds lost by Coincheck this year. In January hackers took ¥58 billion worth of NEM (~$ 550 million USD) from the Japanese crypto exchange. Police are still investigating the theft. The hack was probably carried out with a virus emailed to the Coincheck’s employees.
Cybersecurity experts have voiced concerns that half of the NEM coins, which disappeared in the heist, have been laundered already on the darknet. It’s believed that the attackers have converted them to other cryptocurrencies or even fiat money. A couple of weeks ago the NEM Foundation announced it would no longer track the stolen cryptos. The Singapore-based organization also said it had provided “actionable information” to law enforcement agencies investigating the hacker attack.
Crime in the cyberspace has become a real issue in Japan. More than 3 million attempts to steal computer stored data have been registered in 2017. These include cases of attacks on both credit cards and cryptocurrency wallets. Hackers have misappropriated twice as much as in 2016.
Attention Turning to Crypto Users
In March, Japan’s National Police Agency said it was aware of 149 crypto-related attacks that took place last year. In most cases hackers accessed unprotected crypto wallets storing both public and private keys. Funds in ripple (¥453.5 million), bitcoin (¥194.4 million), etherium (¥5.3 million), and NEM (¥9.2 million) have been illegally transferred to other accounts.
The number of attacks peaked in June, with 41 cases. It stayed below 20 per month for the following five months before going up again in December, when 25 cases were recorded. No suspects have been identified in any of these investigations.
A total of 16 Japanese exchanges have been targeted, according to the Japan Times. Authorities have blamed lax security in more than 80% of the breaches, despite recommendations by exchanges for implementing measures like multifactor authentication.
Although many hackers may have shifted their attention to cryptocurrency users, the number of illicit online transfers of yen and other fiat currencies remains high. 425 such cases have been reported last year in Japan.
Do you take measures to protect your cryptocurrency wallet? Tell us in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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WSJ.com: What’s News Europe
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US law agencies can celebrate another success in their tireless crusade to stop ‘unlicensed money transmitting’ in the land of the free. The latest victory is sending a 24-year old crime kingpin to federal prison for making $ 40,000 from trading bitcoin offline.
One Year in Jail for $ 40,000 from 2.6% Commission
Eldon Stone Ross, a 24-year-old from Kennett Square borough of Chester County, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced on Wednesday to serve a year and a day in federal prison for buying and selling large amounts of bitcoin to people without reporting the transactions to the US government.
The young man supposedly sold $ 1.5 million in bitcoin for almost two years but made only $ 40,000 (a mere 2.6%) in commissions, which he now has to hand over to the government in addition to his year-long prison sentence. He has been convicted for conducting an unlicensed money transmitting business between January 2015 and November 2016 and failing to report the fiat to bitcoin transactions.
“We don’t see many of these cases. It’s the first I’ve done here,” said Bert Glenn, the assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the matter in Philadelphia. “If people can go to someone like Ross who is dealing outside the institutional market, it adds to their anonymity,” he warned.
Ross admitted in October 2017 to selling $ 50,000 worth of bitcoin to undercover federal agents related to Homeland Security Investigations. In each case, they reported he “failed to obtain identifying information from the agents,” according to court records. Like in previous such cases across the US, the authorities claim that by not conducting exchange-like know-your-customer (KYC) procedures and reporting to the Department of the Treasury, the bitcoin seller was enabling money laundering.
Interestingly, the 24-year old was already in prison for drug offenses according to the Philadelphia Inquirer during some of the time in which he is supposed to have been operating the illegal money transmitting business. After his new prison term is over, Ross will be under another three more years of supervised release.
Is US federal agents hunting down bitcoin sellers the best way to protect “Homeland Security”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
The post 24-Year-Old Sent to Prison for Selling Bitcoin to Agents Without Asking for ID appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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