Crypto scams are nothing new. In fact, ever since Crypto even became a thing, numerous scams have been conducted all over the world on different scales. Even though the idea behind Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies was to introduce a transparent, decentralised and ungoverned currency, people have used it in criminal activities for years. What makes Crypto a revolutionary technology also makes it hard to track and, thus, a tool for criminals and terrorists. There have been hundreds of cases of Crypto scams and various other criminal activities funded using Cryptocurrencies. And, this time, a 40-year-old man, Wybo Wiersma, is in the headlines for stealing over $2.6 million. Let’s look into how the attack actually took place.
Wybo Wiersma is a 40-year-old Dutchman, an ex-student of Oxford St Cross College. Wiersma had been conducting this scam for almost four years and had somehow managed to elude the authorities all this time. The dutchman was caught in the Netherlands in 2020 on Christmas Eve by authorities, finally sentencing him to four and a half years in prison. The dutchman had scored over $2.6M by scamming people on the internet. But, you might be wondering, how in the world did he just pull $2.6 million by running scams on the internet? It’s not exactly a criminal mastermind scheme if we’re being honest, and you might not think otherwise when you hear it.
Wybo Wiersma had created a fake website that allowed users to generate seeds. Visitors, of course, were led to believe that these passwords were, in fact, secure and “not compromised.” The website had a payment system that only allowed payments to be made in MIOTA. In case you aren’t familiar with MIOTA, it is a cryptocurrency that was specifically designed for IoT implementations. Little did the public know Wybo Wiersma had injected malicious code into the very seeds his website was offering the users. This, of course, led Wiersma to gain complete access to his customer’s digital assets and allowed Wiersma to transfer these ill-gotten gains to his own accounts. For this, Wiersma employed Bitfinex but was quickly flagged due to suspicious activity by the iFinex Inc-owned cryptocurrency exchange. Bitfinex was suspicious of the identity of the account holder and requested proof of identification from Wiersma, which, surprise, surprise, he didn’t. This, of course, prompted Wiersma to run and take his illegal assets elsewhere. The dutchman then turned to Binance to legitimise his black Crypto but was again detected by the world-renowned crypto exchange in a short period of time. Binance froze the accounts and suspended all access to them. This was a particularly bad thing for Wydo Wiersma as the authorities started to take a substantial amount of interest in his activities. This allowed the UK authorities to catch a whiff of him and started to track Wiersma’s activities, this led to authorities raiding his residence and investigating his computers, but nothing much came from it, and Wiersma flew to the Netherlands after that. This was when the investigators poured all their attention into finding proof of what Wiersma had done. The investigators linked Wiersma’s disguise to a Bitcoin payment he had made and connected the nickname to him. This led the authorities right to his doorstep in the Netherlands, and on the Christmas Eve of 2020, Wydo Wiersma, a 40-year-old dutchman, was arrested and sentenced to prison for four and a half years for defrauding investors. Wydo Wiersma’s acts were ruled out as acts of “Greed and Dishonesty” and a horrible waste of his coding skills. This was the end of a crypto scam that lasted more than four years and resulted in the theft of over $2.6 Million.
What did we learn? Well, for starters, never trust unauthorised services, especially when they’re restricting your payments to only be made using Cryptocurrencies. Crypto is a completely anonymous, volatile, and untraceable asset, and it can be transferred into off-shore accounts and wallets in a matter of seconds. That is why extreme caution and due diligence are absolutely necessary when dealing with all things Crypto. Once it’s gone, it’s nearly impossible to bring it back and catch the culprits. The next thing experts advise doing is relying only on trusted third-party crypto trading platforms. Unauthorised crypto transfers by third-party vendors are the number one cause of scams. Unsecured transactions end up robbing you of all your Crypto, and you might never get it back. Thus, trust only the most secure platforms.
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