Fraudsters jailed over international crypto scam
Four people have been jailed in the UK over a $37 million fraud carried out on an Australian cryptocurrency exchange five years ago.
The UK's Crime Prosecution Service (CPS) says Stephen William Boys, Kelly Caton, Jordan Kane Robinson and James Austin-Beddoes were sentenced to a combined 15 years in prison over their involvement in a scam that "exploited a loophole" on the platform - reported to be Australian-based Coinspot.
The scam was masterminded by James Parker, who died in January 2021 before he could be prosecuted. Parker withdrew dishonestly obtained crypto assets worth $26 million from his trading account, while Caton and Robinson did the same to the tune of $4.74 million and $2.99 million, respectively.
Boys was Parker's Dubai-based financial adviser and was responsible for converting the crypto into cash, which was then laundered through various foreign online accounts.
According to the Lancashire Constabulary, the offenders handed out thousands of dollars in gift cards in the street and "cars were bought for people Parker met in the pub". Luxury watches, houses, designer goods were also purchased.
"During the trial Boys told the court how he took £1,000,000 cash ($1.76 million) in a suitcase to buy a villa from Russians he met in the back office of an estate agent and paid £60,000 ($105,000) to pay off corrupt officials so he could carry on laundering money," Lancashire Constabulary says.
Boys will serve six years, Caton and Robinson will serve four and a half years each, and Beddoes was sentenced to 18 months, 12 of which are suspended, and 20 days' rehab.
The CPS says "a very significant amount" of the assets have been returned or are in the process of being recovered for Coinspot. The prosecution of the four offenders was achieved through cooperation with Australian and Finnish authorities, the CPS says.
"These offenders used the internet from the comfort of their own homes to obtain tens of millions of pounds worth of Bitcoin which did not belong to them. Cyber-enabled crime presents an increasing threat to international economic stability, as well as to honest individual investors in cryptocurrency," specialist prosecutor Jonathan Keller says.
"The CPS advised our police partners throughout this international investigation. Painstaking analysis of vast amounts of digital material and collaborative liaison with the Australian and Finnish authorities enabled us to mount a successful prosecution against these criminals."
Get stories like this in our newsletters.