Australian AFP Officer Allegedly Steals Nearly 82 Bitcoins Worth $6m

By Jody McDonald February 15, 2024 In Australia, Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency
  • An AFP officer has faced court accused of stealing almost 82 BTC from a hardware wallet seized during a police raid as part of a drug-trafficking investigation. 
  • Police initially believed other members of the drug-trafficking ring had transferred the crypto, but later linked an IP address used in the transfers to the Melbourne AFP headquarters. 
  • The stolen BTC is now valued at approximately AUD$6.5 million.

An Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer has appeared in a Melbourne magistrates’ court accused of stealing nearly 82 Bitcoins (BTC) from a hardware cryptocurrency wallet seized by the AFP in 2019 as part of an investigation into a steroid trafficking ring.

The officer, named William Wheatley, was reportedly a ‘specialist’ within the AFP’s cybercrime division. He was belatedly charged with three offences in 2022—police initially believed the Bitcoins had been transferred by other criminals involved in the steroid trafficking ring.

The stolen Bitcoin is today valued at approximately AUD$6.5 million.

AFP Officer Gained Access To Wallet Through Police Investigation, Police Allege

Court documents show that Wheatley is alleged to have stolen 81.616 Bitcoin, at the time valued at around AUD$450,000, from a Trezor hardware wallet found during the joint AFP/Victorian Police investigation that took place on January 25, 2019. 


Wheatley, who is now suspended from the AFP, is facing three charges—theft, dealing with property suspected to be the proceeds of crime, and using information to dishonestly benefit himself.

In testimony to the court Cyber Crime Squad Detective Sergeant, Deon Achtypis, said he was called in to offer support following the 2019 raid of a property in the Melbourne suburb of Hopper’s Crossing which uncovered the Trezor cryptocurrency hardware wallet, along with large quantities of “steroid-type” substances.

Several weeks later, when Achtypis finally got the court’s approval to “rebuild” access to the wallet on February 14, 2019, he found that 81.616 Bitcoin had been transferred out of the wallet on January 29, 2019, four days after it had been discovered in the raid.

Authorities had initially believed the crypto was transferred out by other members of the steroid-trafficking ring, but the case was reopened in 2021 after new evidence suggested a police officer may have been involved.

Was It The Police Officer, With The Computer, In The Police Headquarters?

Achtypis said it became apparent that one of the IP addresses related to the transfer of the Bitcoin was linked to what was then the AFP’s Melbourne headquarters — the calls were coming from inside the house!

Upon learning this, Achtypis enlisted the help of Wales-based crypto investigator Craig Gillespie, who confirmed that another crypto wallet that was linked to the stolen Bitcoin had sent funds to Wheatley’s bank account numerous times between 2019 and September 2022.

The court also heard testimony from the only AFP officer to attend the raid on the Hopper’s Crossing property in 2019, Jesse Wyatt. Wyatt said when the Trezor wallet was found he had no idea what it was and that he’d contacted Wheatley—who he considered to be knowledgeable of such things—asking in a text message read to the court: “Hey mate, you ever seen one of these? Maybe a cryptocurrency thing.”

Wheatley denies the charges against him, with his lawyer arguing the case against his client is circumstantial.

Jody McDonald

Jody McDonald

Jody is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who specialises in writing about business, technology, and the future of work.

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