Woman charged over the ‘theft’ of more than $450,000 in cryptocurrency, NSW

A woman has been charged following an investigation into email compromise and the unauthorised transfer of cryptocurrency, NSW Police say.

In January, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad established Strike Force Rostrevor to investigate the ‘theft’ of 100,000 units of Ripple from an electronic account.

At that time, the total value of the cryptocurrency was more than $450,000.

Investigators were told the victim, a 56-year-old man, believed his email account had been hacked the previous month and was subsequently locked out of his account for two days in mid-January.

When he regained control of the account and checked the activity, he noticed his cryptocurrency account had also been compromised leaving almost a zero balance.

Following extensive investigations, Strike Force Rostrevor detectives, with the assistance of the Public Order and Riot Squad, executed a search warrant at a home at Epping about 8am today (Thursday 25 October 2018).

During the search, police seized computers, electronic storage devices, mobile phones, and documentation.

A 23-year-old woman was arrested at the home and taken to Ryde Police Station, where she was charged with knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.

Police will allege in court that the woman and/or others took over the man’s email account and locked him out by changing the password and enabled a mobile number as a second authentication on the account.

She then allegedly accessed his cryptocurrency account and transferred more than 100,000 Ripple into an exchange based in China, which was later converted into Bitcoin.

She was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Burwood Local Court on Monday 19 November 2018.

Investigations are continuing.

Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, urged the community to enable multi-factor authentication on accounts to help protect from hackers.

“An email account is more valuable than people realise – scammers are increasingly targeting emails as they link the individual to financial accounts and other personal information,” Det Supt Katsogiannis said.

“There is often valuable information saved in sent items or the trash, and scammers will look for anything that will assist in taking over your identity or accessing your finances.

“This is the modern equivalent of digging through a household rubbish bin or stealing mail.

“Just as we were taught to shred documents and lock our mailboxes, the lesson is now ensuring that email accounts containing personal information and are linked to financial accounts have a minimum of two-factor authentication.

“Your personal information is an extremely valuable commodity to criminals and needs be treated and secured as you would cash,” Det Supt Katsogiannis said.

Advice about multi-factor authentication can be found on the Australian Cyber Security Centre website: https://acsc.gov.au/publications/protect/multi_factor_authentication.htm

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to organised fraudulent activity, email/online scams, or other cybercrimes to call Crime Stoppers.

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