Crypto exchange Kraken has partnered with the UK’s South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) to return nearly £2 million ($2.4 million) worth of stolen crypto to victims of a scam.
Following the arrest of 40-year-old Dutch national Wybo Wiersma, who illicitly transferred IOTA tokens using a fraudulent website designed to generate fake seed phrases, SEROCU seized £2.37 million in crypto.
It is the first time the Proceeds of Crime Act has been used to make such a crypto exchange seizure in the UK, a recent announcement from SEROCU said.
SEROCU also shared the news of the upcoming repayment on X, along with a picture of the now-sentenced Wiersma:
💸 Millions to be paid back to victims💸
Almost £2m worth of stolen cryptocurrency is to be paid back to victims of theft as a result of work by SEROCU.
It follows the sentencing of Wybo Wiersma earlier this year.
— SEROCU (@SouthEastROCU) November 9, 2023
In court, Wiersma was ordered to pay £2.1 million, with Kraken’s assistance reportedly instrumental in converting the seized crypto into back into British pounds.
“The victims, of which there are many across the world, have patiently waited for five years for this to happen and it is thanks to my team’s innovation and collaboration, particularly with Kraken, without whom this may not have been possible,” Detective Inspector Rob Bryant of SEROCU’s Cyber Crime and Cryptocurrency Unit, said in a statement.
Awareness about scams important for crypto adoption
Lana Sinelnikova, Kraken’s UK Head of Compliance, emphasized the importance of industry collaboration, urging awareness about potential crypto scams.
“Scammers always find new ways to exploit their victims, and will continue to use these tactics until they prove unsuccessful. In recent years some have relied on the excitement of crypto to deploy commonly used social engineering tactics, such as we saw here,” Sinelnikova said.
She added that for crypto to gain mass adoption, it is necessary that the public has confidence in both the technology and the players in the industry.
“For that reason, we urge those who plan to participate in crypto to educate themselves about the ecosystem, including common red flags that scammers use, so they can avoid falling victim to similar crimes,” she said.