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An unnamed individual in Rome, Italy has been accused of one of the largest cryptocurrency fraud schemes ever recorded in the space’s short, yet significant history. As it stands, police investigators are only claiming that the man allegedly responsible possesses the initials “F.F.” and that he is roughly 34 years of age. Not much else is known about him at press time.
Italy Is at the Center of a Crypto Fraud Investigation
The fraud is reported to have occurred last year in 2019. It happened through a cryptocurrency exchange known as Bit Grail that has since filed bankruptcy. It involved a new type of digital asset known as Nano Coin. As many as 230,000 people are allegedly to have been victimized by the scam and roughly $146 million is believed stolen at the time of writing.
In a statement, police forces in Rome explained:
It is the biggest cyber-financial attack in Italy and one of the biggest in the world. For the first time in Italy and in Europe, we have documented fraudulent and rapacious conduct to the detriment of investors carried out entirely on IT platforms and via the use of virtual currencies.
Right now, the suspect faces several charges including fraudulent bankruptcy claims, computer fraud and money laundering. The fraud first came to light in 2018 after F.F. – as the police are calling him – initiated contact with law enforcement roughly two years ago to report large sums of stolen Nano Coin.
However, as investigators looked deeper into the matter, it allegedly became clear that this individual was involved in the fraud himself. Ivano Gabrielli – director of the National Center for Cybercrimes (CNAIPIC) – mentions:
It is not yet clear whether he participated actively in the theft or if he simply decided not to increase security measures after discovering it.
Either way, police are claiming that the fraud could have been prevented had F.F. taken early action. Thus, it is unclear if he is specifically responsible for the attack or if he simply (and knowingly) paved the way for someone else to take charge in stealing the funds.
2020 has been a solid year for crypto in the sense that bitcoin has reached its new all-time high and several altcoins have followed in its footsteps. However, it has also been a hard year given the amount of digital fraud that has taken place.
So Much Theft in 2020
Recently, news came about that Alexander Vinnik – the alleged creator of the “Locky” ransomware program – was jailed for five years for money laundering after he had been accused of using the malware through the now defunct BTC-e exchange to garner more than $150 million in stolen money.
In addition, Donald Trump’s reelection campaign reported that it had stopped an attempt by cyberthieves to utilize the campaign’s website to garner Monero funds from unsuspecting visitors.