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Australian policeman accused of stealing 81 Bitcoin

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Australian policeman accused of stealing 81 Bitcoin

  cryptopolitan.com 2 h

Australian policeman accused of stealing 81 Bitcoin

The case of the missing Bitcoin involving a federal police officer in Australia has brought attention to the challenges of investigating crypto-related crimes. Allegations by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) suggest that William Wheatley, the Australian officer in question, wiped a Trezor hardware wallet containing 81.62 Bitcoin during a crime scene investigation.

Australian policeman wipes 81 Bitcoin

This incident unfolded during a drug raid at a residence, where Australian authorities discovered the hardware wallet. However, obtaining court permission to access it took nearly three weeks. Upon finally accessing the wallet, investigators found it empty, with all the Bitcoin allegedly transferred out by the Australian cop.

The Bitcoin, valued at $309,000 at the time of the raid in 2019, has since skyrocketed in value to approximately $4.2 million. Initially, suspicions fell on a crime syndicate associate, as a device containing the seed phrase to the hardware wallet was also found at the scene. The seed phrase, consisting of 12 to 24 random words, serves as a recovery method for the wallet if it is lost or stolen.

However, an extensive investigation using crypto tracing software revealed a link to Wheatley through IP addresses associated with the stolen Bitcoin transactions. Detective Sergeant Deon Achtypis of the cybercrime squad concluded that a police officer might have been involved in the movement of the cryptocurrency. This case underscores the growing trend of law enforcement agencies globally adopting crypto-tracing software to combat illicit activities involving digital assets.

For instance, Canadian law enforcement announced in August 2023 that they had begun using Chainalysis Reactor software for tracing illicit crypto transactions. Moreover, advancements in crypto detective software have led to a higher rate of recovered stolen crypto. In 2023, over $674 million was reportedly recovered from more than 600 large-scale crypto hacks.

Combating illicit activities with crypto-tracing software

In response to the accusations, Wheatley maintains his innocence against charges of exploiting his position as a public officer for personal gain, theft, and involvement with proceeds of crime. He is prepared to contest the allegations regarding the stolen Bitcoin from the Trezor wallet.

The accusations against Wheatley come amidst Trezor’s acknowledgment of a security breach affecting nearly 66,000 users. The company disclosed unauthorized entry into a third-party support portal on January 17, potentially compromising the data of individuals who had interacted with Trezor’s support team since December 2021.

This case highlights the complexities and challenges law enforcement agencies face in combating crypto-related crimes. As digital assets continue to gain popularity and value, the need for robust security measures and effective investigative techniques becomes increasingly critical to prevent and prosecute illicit activities involving cryptocurrencies.

The allegations against William Wheatley serve as a reminder of the importance of maintaining integrity and accountability, particularly among law enforcement officers entrusted with upholding the law. The case also underscores the evolving landscape of cybercrime and the role of advanced technology in investigating and combating illicit activities involving cryptocurrencies.

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