Law enforcement takes a big hit - New Zealand police lose 45,000 New Zealand dollars (NZD) in bitcoins (BTC). While investigators are on the trail of hackers, this cryptosphere personality thinks it could simply be a mistake. The police, who would have used these Bitcoins to trap criminals, could have simply been tricked by them.
Police's Bitcoin wallet emptied
The NZD 45,000 in stolen bitcoins was intended to further a money laundering investigation. Specifically, the money was to be used to purchase drugs as part of an undercover operation. Unfortunately, someone outside of law enforcement appears to have managed to get their hands on the private keys to the wallet. At this time, authorities do not know the identity of the perpetrators.
Inspector Stuart Mills of the New Zealand Police's National Organized Crime Unit is leading the investigation. According to the New Zealand Herald, Mills believes the hackers are "probably based overseas. The theft is "part of a larger fraud targeting Bitcoin wallets," he said.
How was BTC stolen?
The founder of the cryptocurrency exchange BitPrime, Ross Carter-Brown, commented on the theft, recalling that the hackers had to have "access to the private keys of this wallet or the backup phrase" to be able to pull off their maneuver. According to him, the hackers could have exploited a breach that would have allowed them to obtain these keys, but the hackers would then have to be able to access the police networks. Carter-Brown rules out the possibility that someone handed it over to the thieves on purpose.
Instead, he favors the theory that it was purchased with bitcoins, which did not go as planned. The criminals that the police were trying to trap could, in his opinion, have escaped with the BTC, without having delivered the goods or services in return:
"If [the police] sent it to someone and they didn't keep their end of the bargain, you can't take it back. [Cryptocurrencies] are unforgiving. If you make a mistake, you can't undo it."
The New Zealand authorities are not, however, rookies when it comes to cryptos. Yes, they are! They had already seized about 90 million dollars in bitcoins from Alexander Vinnik. This computer scientist, presumed to be the person in charge of the BTC-e exchange, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for ransomware using cryptocurrencies.
The reputation of the New Zealand police took a hit with this BTC theft. Still, this unfortunate event doesn't make the country's authorities cryptocurrency losers, who could become stars of a new reality show.
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