£2 Million, 100 Victims; Oxford Student Runs Extensive Crypto Scam

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  • An Oxford student Wybo Wiersma is arrested for £2 million cryptocurrency scam.
  • Wiersma is sentenced to four and half years of jail for stealing from 100 victims worldwide.
  • A phony website was created to generate ‘seeds’ for users of Iota, online currency.

Dutch national Wybo Wiersma was arrested for stealing from over 100 people worldwide in a crypto fraud of £2 million. He is sentenced to jail for four and half years.

Wybo Wiersma, a research student from Gorredijk (Netherlands), was studying at the Internet Institute of St. Cross College, when he hatched up the plan to create a phony website that would eventually rob people of their life savings and businesses.

As per report, The Oxford University graduate set up a fake website, iotaseed.io, under a false name and convinced people that it would generate a ‘seed’ for those investing in an online currency called lota.

The users believed these ‘seeds’ or passwords would simply be a random string of 81 characters, including capital letters and the number 9. However, it was a predetermined code by Wiersma to steal the funds and transfer it to his own account.

Regarding the complexity of the case, Prosecutor Julian Christopher KC states:

Anyone who knows the seed can access, and so can transfer and trade the Iota crypto.

The 40-year-old converted the stolen funds into Bitcoin and Monero using Bitfinex, the crypto exchange site. Upon finding suspicious activity on the accounts, Bitfinex quickly froze them.

When Bitfinex requested identification, Wiersma presented fake documents. Bitfinex continued the status quo which was when Wiersma moved to Binance, another crypto exchange. He had five accounts there, before they froze them as well.

The case was particularly hard to track, as stated by Detective Inspector Rob Bryant in a report:

This was a particularly complex investigation involving more than 100 victims worldwide.

In 2018, reports had been filed with the German police, who traced the crime to the UK and passed the case to the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit, who managed to trace the crime to Wiersma. British police seized a number of devices. Wiersma pled guilty in Oxford Crown Court presided by Judge Michael Gledhill KC.

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