The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. Too slowly for some’s taste in many cases, but over the past year there have been numerous enforcement actions that indicate authorities are increasing their capabilities to apply the law where crypto theft is concerned.
They seem to be exceedingly good in catching SIM Swapping hackers, but the crown jewel remains the arrest of MT Gox hackers, and more importantly, the repossession of circa 800,000 bitcoin that were stolen prior to 2014.
The biggest win in the crypto space for law enforcement so far has been the arrest of Alexander Vinnik (pictured in gray) in Greece during July 2017.
A fight over Vinnik ensued. America, Russia, France and Greece wanted to wield the justice process. Russia yielded the highest right, with an extradition following after the Greek Supreme Court approved it. Around that time, an unnamed US Special Agent said:
“Mark Karpeles may be a terrible businessman and may have run his company into the ground. He may have realized the BTC (bitcoin) were taken earlier than announced. But we have known for a long time that his firm, like Bitcoinica, was targeted by Eurasian hackers and the stolen BTC cashed out via BTC-e.
Karpeles cooperated with the Silk Road investigation. He cooperated with this investigation. In our eyes, he’s a good guy and he hasn’t always been rewarded for doing the right thing.”
800,000 bitcoins are currently worth close to $3 billion dollars, making this one of the world’s biggest theft in history.
Unlike many other thefts, it is unique in affecting citizens across pretty much the entire globe, but where are the coins?
That remains a mystery, with it unclear whether Vinnik knows. There are some whispers, however, completely unverified and perhaps fully false, that there may have been some recent arrests in Russia of a number of potentially MT Gox hackers who may have in their possession quite a few bitcoins.
If it is so, we should know very soon. If it isn’t, the question remains five years on: where are the coins?