Crypto exchange Kraken has collaborated with the UK’s South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) to facilitate the return of nearly £2 million ($2.4 million) worth of stolen crypto to victims of a scam.
After the arrest of 40-year-old Dutch national Wybo Wiersma, who illicitly transferred IOTA tokens using a fraudulent website designed to generate fake seed phrases, SEROCU seized £2.37 million in crypto.
This marks the first instance in the UK where the Proceeds of Crime Act has been employed to make a crypto exchange seizure for such purposes.
SEROCU also announced the forthcoming repayment on Twitter (X), along with a photograph of the now-sentenced Wiersma:
In court, Wiersma was ordered to pay £2.1 million, and Kraken played a crucial role in converting the seized crypto back into British pounds.
Detective Inspector Rob Bryant of SEROCU’s Cyber Crime and Cryptocurrency Unit stated, “The victims, of which there are many across the world, have patiently waited for five years for this to happen, and it is thanks to my team’s innovation and collaboration, particularly with Kraken, without whom this may not have been possible.”
Awareness about scams important for crypto adoption
Lana Sinelnikova, Kraken’s UK Head of Compliance, stressed the significance of industry collaboration and urged increased awareness about potential crypto scams.
“Scammers always find new ways to exploit their victims, and will continue to use these tactics until they prove unsuccessful. In recent years some have relied on the excitement of crypto to deploy commonly used social engineering tactics, such as we saw here,” Sinelnikova noted.
She emphasized that for crypto to achieve mass adoption, it is crucial for the public to have confidence in both the technology and the industry players.
“For that reason, we urge those who plan to participate in crypto to educate themselves about the ecosystem, including common red flags that scammers use, so they can avoid falling victim to similar crimes,” she added.