UK police raise nearly $300,000 in auction of seized cryptocurrency

A visual representation of bitcoinS3studio | Getty ImagesPolice in the U.K. raised almost $300,000 by auctioning off a convicted hacker’s cryptocurrency haul.The crypto assets, which included bitcoin, ripple and ether, raised more than £240,000 ($295,150) when they were sold off by the U.K.’s Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) on Wednesday and Thursday last week.However, Wilsons Auctions, which orchestrated the sale, said a week before the auction that the cryptocurrency had a fluctuating value of up to £500,000.It marked the first time a British police force had auctioned any form of cryptocurrency as part of an asset recovery order. Funds raised from the sale will be reinvested in crime prevention efforts, according to the ERSOU.More than 7,500 bids were placed on the auction which was separated into 62 different sales, Wilsons Auctions said, with bids coming from various countries including Brazil, Australia, the U.S. and Singapore. It also noted that a single bitcoin achieved an average sale price of £6,798.80 — close to its current trading price.The assets were seized from an unnamed hacker who “illegally supplied online personal data and hacking services in exchange for thousands of pounds worth of cryptocurrency,” ERSOU said in a press release Monday.BBC News reported Monday that the digital currency had come from a teenager who received a jail sentence in August for hacking British internet provider TalkTalk.”Asset recovery in a digital world has evolved, so it’s really important that we have a clear process for the storage and sale of cryptocurrency,” Detective Chief Inspector Martin Peters of the ERSOU cybercrime unit said in the press release.”This goes to show there is no place to hide criminal assets — we are constantly developing our techniques and capabilities to ensure that proceeds of crime are either given back to the rightful owner or, as in this case, are reinvested in crime,” he added.ERSOU noted that all of the buyers who took part in the auction were approved “ethical users of cryptocurrency,” with each participant’s background checked by a specialist.Although last week’s auction was the first of its kind in the U.K., it was the latest in a series of seized crypto sales that have gone ahead internationally.U.S. prosecutors have previously auctioned off seized bitcoin and cryptocurrency assets, with the U.S. Marshals Service raising $18.7 million from a bitcoin auction last year, according to Coindesk.Meanwhile, Wilsons Auctions raised £550,000 ($676,580) in March from an auction of bitcoins seized by the Belgian government.

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