Unsealed court filings in Chicago show the arrest of two individuals believed to be part of an online cybercrime syndicate. The FBI says it suspects the group has stolen more than $3 million worth of cryptocurrency.
Details of the Arrests
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the FBI suspects a Bloomington resident and another from Dolton of being part of an online cybercrime syndicate that has stolen over $3 million in cryptocurrency. The Bloomington resident told Federal Agents that he met the group online while playing “Call of Duty” – the popular first-person shooter game.
The FBI says the group stole at least $805,000 in Augur Reputation Tokens. Earlier, the San Francisco-based Augur registered a complaint with the Bureau alleging that hackers were targeting its employees and investors.
According to an FBI affidavit, the Bloomington-based suspect confessed to hacking over 100 phones belonging to victims of the numerous cyber attacks. Upon completion of the cryptocurrency thefts, the FBI says the group converted the stolen tokens to Bitcoin or Ether – the two most popular digital currencies.
Acting Under Duress
Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bloomington-based man said that he didn’t hack 100 phones, that the actual number was a lot lower. Speaking further, he declared:
I have done nothing but cooperate with Augur and the FBI. I have never once profited from anyone [by] crypto-hacking, ever.
The FBI also said that the Bloomington resident claimed he was an unwilling participant in the theft. According to the FBI, the Bloomington-based individual said he was threatened with being implicated in ongoing violent crime (“SWATting”) by the alleged ringleaders of the crime group.
Cryptocurrency Thefts by Cybercrime Syndicates
Recently, Live Bitcoin News reported on the North Korean ‘Lazarus’ hacking syndicate responsible for cryptocurrency thefts amounting to more than $571 million in multiple cyber attacks. With this latest revelation, it appears there are numerous online groups actively involved in coordinated cryptocurrency heists. Some officials in South Korea say the group is responsible for many of the attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.
Reports by cybersecurity firms like CipherTrace and Group-IB show an increase in cryptocurrency ransomware attacks targeted at banks at other businesses. In September, the Manhattan Supreme Court sentenced one Louis Meza to ten years in prison for attempting to steal $1.8 million.
Do you believe that the arrested suspects were acting under duress? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Image courtesy of Call of Duty and ShutterStock