In a recent revelation, Wybo Wiersma, a 40-year-old Dutchman and a Oxford University’s St. Cross College graduate, has been sentenced to 54 months imprisonment for stealing £2,156,000 (more than $2.6 million) using a cryptocurrency scheme.
The British detectives linked the scam to the man who used a fake name Norbert van den Berg, in his malicious website and university coursework. Judge Michael Gledhill KC ordered Wiersma to spend four and a half years in prison for his offense.
Sources reveal that the accused started his cryptocurrency fraud when he studied at the Internet Institute of St Cross College. He had set up a website under a false name, which generated “seeds” (passwords that users believed were not compromised). They were necessary to use MIOTA – a cryptocurrency with a current market capitalization of over $620 million.
However, a malicious code was attached to the “seeds,” which enabled the accused to access clients’ assets. Then he stole funds and transferred them into his accounts. Later, he converted the stolen MIOTA stash into Monero (XMR) using a crypto exchange platform in January 2018.
The platform he used for conversion intercepted his suspicious activities and froze his accounts, asking him for his proof of identification. The accused then presented bogus passports- one of a Belgian resident and another of an Australian man named “Jason.”
However, the platform did not authorize those documents, making the accused switch to a different platform. Interestingly, even this platform quickly detected his plans and suspended access to the accounts.
Sources reveal that in 2018, several affected investors complained of their missing assets to the German police. The police then cooperated with their British colleagues and launched an investigation, eventually leading them to Wiersma, who was staying in Oxford.
The British enforcement agents then raided his place, saw his computer open, and tracked his activities in the past few years. When interrogated about the website, he did not provide relevant information and returned briefly to the Netherlands.
Nonetheless, detectives continued working on the case and found that he used the pseudonym Norbert van den Berg in the seed-generating website and his university coursework. They also connected the nickname with a Bitcoin payment.
With relevant evidence, the authorities arrested him in the Netherlands and now have given him a sentence. While announcing the punishment, Judge Gledhill stated:
You are an expert in IT and computer sciences… The fact of the matter is that you decided to abuse your skills to steal. This is dishonesty at the highest level. Why did you commit these offenses? Greed and dishonesty are the two words that readily come to mind.
Crypto frauds and scams have been consistently increasing in the United Kingdom. As per data from the United Kingdom police unit “Action Fraud,” crypto frauds in the country rose by over 32% in 2022, taking the estimated value to 226 million pounds ($273 million).
Last week, Todayq News reported a joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Observer which uncovered that the country had become a hub for crypto and forex scams. The investigation revealed that at least 168 companies had been accused of running fraudulent crypto or foreign exchange (forex) scams in the UK. The actual number is believed to be much higher.