Grant West, a British man who was arrested for running a cryptocurrency scam operation a while back, is set to lose all of his loot to his victims. According to a report by local news medium The Telegraph, West’s gains, which amounted to about £920,000 ($1.1 million), has been confiscated and is set to be distributed to his victims. The Telegraph noted that on August 23, Judge Joanna Korner of the Southwark Crown Court rule that the confiscation should be completed, after substantial evidence was found of his crimes.
West’s criminal operation reportedly lasted between August and December 2015. In his attacks, he allegedly used the online pseudonym “Courvoisier” to operate, and he sent phishing Emails with the intent of stealing the personal data of victims. The report noted that he was able to get his hands on a wide array of information, including but not limited to financial data like credit card details.
He then proceeded to sell all these data on AlphaBay, a popular criminal marketplace on the Dark Web in exchange for cryptocurrency, which he moved across cryptocurrency exchanges and held in wallets.
More specifically, West was said to have expanded his reach, moving on to target several companies, including Sainsbury’s, the second-largest retail company in the U.K, as well as ride-hailing giant Uber and general merchandise retail company Argos.
Accounts by local media revealed that he would send Emails to his victims, promising them money off vouchers in return for them answering some questions as regards their private accounts. The mails were properly written to imitate companies he had targeted (Uber, Sainsbury’s, and co.)
This gave credibility to the emails, and the unsuspecting victims went on to willingly provide their data.
During their investigation of his home, local police discovered a memory card that contained up to 78 million passwords and usernames, as well as the complete information to about 63,000 credit and debit cards. The search also yielded the discovery of £25,000 ($30,000) in cash, as well as several drugs which he pushed online as well.
West was arrested on September 2017, where he was summarily charged with conspiracy to defraud and in possession of properties acquired through illegal means. He pleaded guilty to his crimes in December 2017. In May 2019, he was sentenced to a decade behind bars.
At the time of his arrest and sentencing, the total value of the cryptocurrency found in his possession was about $1.96 million. However, prosecution attorney Kevin Barry claimed that the volatility of the Bitcoin trading price at the time made it challenging for them to determine the exact value of his crypto holdings.
Also, Judge Korner has ruled that the entirety of his loot should be liquidated and sent to his victims as compensation for the damages done. While he wasn’t inclined to give up his cryptocurrencies at first, he became much more cooperative with threats of an additional four years in prison.