Conversion to cryptocurrency does not help criminals escape prosecution.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) intends to return to Japanese company Sony more than $150 million in bitcoins stolen from its subsidiary Sony Life Insurance Company Ltd. The corresponding claim is published on the official website of the department.
The funds were discovered by a team from the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to the investigation, Sony’s money was taken over by an employee of the organization, Rei Ishii, in May 2021. Later, he converted assets into 3879 bitcoins. The cost of the cryptocurrency, at the current exchange rate, has exceeded $180 million.
Here’s how the scammer acts:
- Rei Ishii received an order from the management of a Sony subsidiary to transfer $154 million between company accounts.
- The employee violated the instructions. He transferred assets to an account under his control at a bank in California.
- Subsequently, Rei Ishii transferred $154 million into bitcoin.
DOJ documents state that the funds were confiscated by law enforcement on December 1, 2021, based on an FBI investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation managed to track down the assets that Rei Ishii transferred to a cold wallet.
In addition to the FBI, representatives of Sony, financial firm Citibank, and Japanese police officers are also participating in the investigation. Together, they managed to obtain the private key that unlocked access to Ray Ishii’s cryptocurrency. All assets confiscated. Law enforcement agencies filed charges against Ray Ishii.
“Criminals should pay attention: You cannot rely on cryptocurrencies to hide their illicit proceeds from law enforcement. The US is actively coordinating with its international partners to prevent crimes and recover stolen funds,” the DOJ said in a statement.
Law enforcement officials also take note of the FBI’s extensive experience tracking stolen money to cryptocurrency wallets.
Upon completion of the investigation, funds will be returned to Sony, according to the DOJ. It is noteworthy that during the investigation, $ 154 million was converted into cryptocurrency, against the background of the growth of the bitcoin rate, turned into $ 180 million How much will Sony receive and in what amount, the DOJ did not specify.
Anonymity with spaces
Cryptocurrencies are financial instruments that, subject to a number of rules, allow you to maintain anonymity. In the conditions of 2021, maintaining confidentiality is not easy – many trading platforms require KYC verification procedures to de-anonymize users.
There are other ways to reveal the identity of digital asset holders. One of them is dust attack. This method involves sending a small amount of cryptocurrency to a potential victim’s wallet to track the movement of the asset further. In some cases, if a user transfers funds to a wallet that is not anonymized, fraudsters can match the data and obtain information about the person’s identity. The US government has made no secret of its willingness to pay the informant.
Representatives from the crypto industry are also helping American regulators. For example, the US government partnered with one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase. Trading platforms help regulators track crypto transactions.