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Manhattan DA freezes $1.3M in stolen cryptocurrency

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has frozen more than $1.3 million in stolen cryptocurrency this year as part of its efforts to crack down on “cyberthieves,” it said Thursday.

Cryptocurrency scammers who targeted three Manhattan residents between November of last year and April of this year bilked them out of more than $1.7 million, the DA’s office said in a press release.

A team from the DA’s office traced and froze a portion of the stolen funds, the release said.

“Using our blockchain analysis expertise, our investigators, prosecutors, and specialized cryptocurrency analysts were able to locate and freeze more than $1.3 million of stolen cryptocurrency in the past 10 months alone,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement.

The DA’s office said it seized $200,000 of the frozen cryptocurrency and is now holding it in its accounts.

“While many of these cyberthieves are overseas and currently out of our reach, the cryptocurrency they stole is not,” Bragg said. “We are returning that money to the victims of these schemes – while raising awareness to prevent future fraud.”

One of the victims was scammed in November of last year, losing more than $300,000 on a fake website meant to look like a real cryptocurrency trading platform, the DA’s office said.

The money went to scammers in Turkey, but the DA’s office was able to freeze about $200,000 of it, the release said.

In the same month, a Manhattan-based business owner lost more than $700,000 in cryptocurrency to a fake investment scheme based out of Nigeria, according to the DA’s office.

The DA’s office recovered more than $200,000 of that money, it said.

The final scheme uncovered by Bragg’s office occurred this past April, when someone claiming they were an Amazon representative called a Manhattan resident and said they were investigating a fraudulent purchase, the release said.

The victim said she was transferred to a person posing as a Federal Trade Commission investigator, who tricked her into “depositing more than $700,000 in cash into Bitcoin ATMs,” according to the release.

That resident was not the only person who fell victim to the scam, the DA’s office noted.

“Other victims of this scam were also instructed to download and install remote computer access software that allowed the scammers access to their online bank accounts,” the release said.

The DA’s office was able to freeze more than $900,000 in stolen cryptocurrency and cash as part of its investigation into that scam, the release said, adding that the scammers were “believed to be operating out of India.”

“I urge everyone to share these common scams with their loved ones, particularly the older people in their lives, and report any such scams to our Cybercrime and Identity Theft Hotline at 212-335-9600,” Bragg said in his statement.


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