A 23-year-old woman has been charged with knowingly deal with proceeds of crime by NSW Police in one of the country’s first major cryptocurrency thefts.
The woman was arrested in her home in Epping in Sydney’s northwest today by NSW Police after executing a search warrant on the property this morning, seizing computers, electronic storage devices, mobile phones, and documentation.
The arrest follows a nine-month investigation by a police strike force into the theft of cryptocurrency worth $450,000 when it was stolen from an electronic account in January.
Police will allege in court that the woman and/or others took over 56-year-old man’s email account and locked him out by changing the password and enabled a mobile number as a second authentication on the account.
She then allegedly accessed his cryptocurrency account and transferred more than 100,000 Ripple units into an exchange based in China, which was later converted into Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is now worth around half the value it had in January.
The victim told police he believed his email account was hacked last December and he was subsequently locked out of his account for two days in mid-January.
When he regained control of the account and checked the activity, he discovered his cryptocurrency account had been largely emptied.
The woman was conditional bail and is due to appear in Burwood Local Court on November 19.
Investigations are continuing.
Following her arrest, Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, issued a warning for people to us multi-factor authentication on accounts to help protect against hackers.
“An email account is more valuable than people realise – scammers are increasingly targeting emails as they link the individual to financial accounts and other personal information,” Det Supt Katsogiannis said.
“There is often valuable information saved in sent items or the trash, and scammers will look for anything that will assist in taking over your identity or accessing your finances.
“This is the modern equivalent of digging through a household rubbish bin or stealing mail.
“Just as we were taught to shred documents and lock our mailboxes, the lesson is now ensuring that email accounts containing personal information and are linked to financial accounts have a minimum of two-factor authentication.”
Advice on multi-factor authentication can be found on the Australian Cyber Security Centre website.