UK – Judge Orders Bitcoin Compensation for Cybercrime Victims

Historical ruling in the UK! For the first time ever, a judge has ordered the confiscation of bitcoin, worth over £900,000 from an imprisoned hacker. The hacker, Grant West, had approximately £1M worth in bitcoin, at the time of his arrest in September 2017, saved in various accounts. West has agreed to comply with the order. 

Grant West

Going by the online pseudonym of ‘Courvoisier’, West terrorized British companies for over two years. Among his victims were Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Uber and Coral. He broke into their servers stealing more than 78 M clients’ personal information and selling it in the dark web for cryptocurrency. West was sentenced in May 2018 to 10 years and 8 months in prison for numerous offenses including; unauthorized modification of computer material, conspiracy to defraud and possession of the criminal property.

The process of compensating West’s victims proved to be difficult, as the fluctuating value of bitcoin over time, made the calculations concerning the compensation particularly problematic. At the time of his arrest, the UK authorities have confiscated 82 bitcoins from West’s accounts. In the time that elapsed since his arrest, the value of bitcoin changed dramatically – in December 2017, few months after his arrest, the value of bitcoin rocketed to almost £18,000, before falling below £7,000 in May 2018. In order to combat the ever changing rates, the value of the bitcoins was calculated by authorities at a rate of £8500 per unit. Some of the money seized from the criminal following his arrest was in other cryptocurrencies including Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash.

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The unprecedented ruling gives hope to many cybercrime victims. Whereas cryptocurrency was perceived by criminals as a safe way to hide their stolen money, believing it is untraceable and untouchable by the authorities, the ruling proves that it is no longer the case. Cybercrime victims may now hope to be compensated for stolen assets, even if the savvy criminal kept his ‘earnings’ in cyber currency.

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