In the shadow of the passing of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday 8 September, the past week in financial crime headlines saw a hacker make off with $185,000 raised by Hollywood comic acting legend Bill Murray for charity in an NFT auction; members of a UK human trafficking gang with Vietnam links were jailed for money laundering; and Australian authorities established a specialist unit to combat financial crimes committed using cryptocurrencies.
Find out more on these stories below.
Heartless hacker steals $185,000 from charity funds raised by Bill Murray’s NFT auction
A hacker has succeeded in siphoning off $185,000 raised for charity by Hollywood superstar Bill Murray. The comedic genius’s “Beer with Bill Murray” NFT had started a bidding war which raised donations of Ethereum digital currency (ETH) for Chive Charities, which offers grants to support “underserved veterans, military families, first responders, and rare medical diagnoses.”
The as-yet unidentified hacker stole 119.2 ETH, barely a day after Murray had raised the funds, before the unconscionable crook then allegedly transferred the funds to a wallet associated with crypto exchanges Binance and Unionchain.ai.
Murray’s wallet security team was, however, able to prevent the hacker’s attempt to steal 800 NFTs from the ‘Groundhog Day’ lead man’s high-value personal collection by moving the digital assets to so-called ‘safehouse wallets’. They also filed a police report and are working with crypto analytics firm Chainalysis to bring the perpetrator to justice.
A fellow contender in the charity auction, meanwhile, has donated 120 ETH to Chive to replace the lost funds.
Read more on this story at Coin Desk.
Vietnam-linked human trafficking gang sentenced in UK for laundering over £4m, trafficking in people, and drug trading
The efforts of UK’s Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) paid off on Monday 5 September 2022 as custodial sentences were handed down to four of five members of a human trafficking gang at the Southwark Crown Court.
The prison sentences, which varied from six-and-a-half years to 16 months in duration, were for criminal activities associated with the trafficking of Vietnamese citizens into the UK from France, the illegal production and sale of cannabis, and laundering almost £4.2m of the funds generated through Vietnamese students’ bank accounts and businesses.
The sentences were the culmination of ERSOU’s investigations across Wales, London, Leicester, Essex, Cambridgeshire, and Birmingham. The gang accrued funds as a result of charging Vietnamese citizens living in France between £7,000 to £11,500 to be transported illegally into the UK, after which some of whom were then set to work on illegal cannabis production activities.
The funds were placed in the bank accounts of Vietnamese students studying in the UK, then transferred to Vietnamese nationals who ran clothing export businesses from the mainland back to Vietnam. Illegal funds were also laundered through nail bars.
Commenting on the sentences, ERSOU’s Detective Constable Paul Gillick noted that “organised crime destroys lives. Anyone helping to facilitate it will face the full force of the law."
Read more on this story at ITV.
Australian Federal Police form specialist unit to counter financial crimes committed via cryptocurrencies
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has founded a specialist cryptocurrency unit to address cryptocurrency-based money laundering, scamming, and other serious economic crimes.
The formation of the unit follows an April 2022 warning from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre’s (AUSTRAC) to the public and businesses about the potential abuse of cryptocurrencies to commit a host of financial crimes.
AUSTRAC’s report added that cryptocurrency scams in 2021 alone generated 10,412 complaints which allegedly cost victims more than $129.4m. Meanwhile, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) cautioned in June 2022 that Australians lost $113m to crypto-related investment scams in the first five months of 2022.
The newly established unit will operate as an arm of the AFP’s Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT), to identify and monitor cryptocurrency trading throughout the blockchain, regardless of whether it is to combat money laundering, terrorism financing, tax evasion, fraud, or any other illegal financial activities.
Read more on this story at The Coin Republic.
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