The Australian Federal Police (AFP), in collaboration with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has uncovered cryptos and cash to the value of A$1.66 million during an investigation of a convicted Sydney-based hacker. The man was arrested and subsequently ordered by the Supreme Court of New South Wales to forfeit the ill-gotten gains to the Commonwealth, according to the AFP.
Largest Commonwealth Forfeiture of Cryptocurrencies
Evan McMahon, 23, who was convicted earlier this year of selling stolen Netflix and Spotify subscriptions, has been ordered to hand over proceeds in the form of cryptocurrencies and cash to the value of A$1.66 million, of which A$1.2 million are cryptos – the largest forfeiture of cryptos to date in Australia.
The court was told McMahon conspired with US accomplice Samuel Joyner to steal the log-in details and passwords of streaming service customers, subsequently selling them online at a cheaper rate. McMahon pleaded guilty to various offences in October 2020 and was sentenced to two years and two months’ imprisonment in April 2021.
The investigation began in 2018 when the FBI passed on information to the AFP about an account generator website called WickedGen that sold stolen account details for online subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu and Spotify.
Following sentencing, the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) obtained restraining orders over cryptos, PayPal and bank accounts held in false names, which were suspected to be controlled by McMahon.
Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says the funds will be redistributed to support crime prevention, community safety-related initiatives, and law enforcement. Andrews added:
Good work by the AFP has seen a criminal stripped of their ill-gotten gains, and this money redirected to enhancing the safety and security of communities right around Australia.Karen Andrews, Minister for Home Affairs
AFP Clamps Down on Cryptos
Many criminal organisations have turned to cryptos in an effort to hide their profits, but authorities are now moving to seize cryptos linked to illegal activities.
In the UK, police recently seized 48 bitcoin from a 16-year-old who ran an operation that scammed thousands of victims after extracting their personal details via a copycat website of gift voucher platform Love2Shop.
In Australia, the AFP has executed a series of an initiatives designed to decentralise organised criminal syndicates away from illegally obtained profits by confiscating cryptocurrencies, designer items, homes and luxury vehicles.
The government recently passed amendments to the Surveillance Legislation Bill, granting the AFP and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) new powers to surveil, intercept data, and also alter data online.
The Australian government has also mapped out plans to permit the seizure of cryptos amid a 15 percent increase in ransomware attacks. The “Ransomware Action Plan”, released last month by the Department of Home Affairs, outlines several measures in an effort to deter and punish cybercriminals. Part of the plan includes confiscating illicit cryptos.
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