Two men were recently arrested in Tokyo, Japan on suspicion of stealing as much as $700,000 in bitcoin funds.
Bitcoin Theft Is a Little Too Common
The culprits are named Yuto Onitsuka and Takuma Sasaki. Both men are in their 20s. They have been charged with computer fraud and “siphoning-off” digital funds from a financial firm that Onitsuka was previously employed with. The firm allegedly delved in bitcoin investment strategies and both accessed the money using Onitsuka’s login credentials. They are then said to have moved the funds in question from the company’s private stash into their own personal accounts.
They were also foolish enough to spend some of that money – transferring it into fiat (and therefore establishing solid records) and then using those funds to travel to exotic countries and enjoy a lavish (albeit temporary) lifestyle.
In addition, it is reported that neither of the potential culprits ever met in person, and only knew each other through chats conducted in an online forum dedicated to digital currencies.
The fact is that despite the power and prowess of bitcoin and its altcoin cousins, the crypto industry is largely consumed with greed and malicious actors seeking to invoke harm and steal what isn’t theirs. Incidents like these are quite commonplace and have occurred more often than most diehard crypto fans might care to admit.
One such case (among many) occurred in early 2019. A 21-year-old man named Joel Ortiz, who was sentenced to a ten-year jail term last April. Ortiz was found guilty of engaging in SIM-swapping tactics that saw him garner $8 million in crypto funds from as many as 40 separate victims. SIM-swapping involves taking over an unsuspecting person’s cell phone SIM card to access their online accounts.
Ortiz then spent the stolen funds on lavish items such as Gucci merchandise and clothing. He also frequented nightclubs in Los Angeles and even spent on a private helicopter ride to take himself and some friends to a nearby music festival.
Prosecutor Erin West described Ortiz and people like him as follows:
These are not Robin Hoods. These are crooks who use a computer instead of a gun. They are not just stealing some ethereal, experimental currency. They are stealing college funds, home mortgages and people’s financial lives.
Wanting to Get Back at Employers
Onitsuka clearly had a grudge against the company he worked with, and police have uncovered his chat records with Sasaki. In several messages, he expresses unhappiness with his role in the company and says that he disagrees with many of its management protocols. He is quoted as saying that he wished to “bankrupt” the firm.
At the time of writing, the name of the enterprise has not been released, though law enforcement has stated that the money may have been taken as far back as October 2018.