Aussie cop accused of stealing 81 Bitcoins during raid

The Australian federal police officer denies allegations of taking Bitcoin from a hardware wallet at the crime scene and transferring it to crypto exchange Binance.

The National Anti-corruption Commission of Australia has accused a federal police officer of wiping a Trezor hardware wallet containing 81.62 Bitcoin at a crime scene and transferring it into his own possession, after tracing the transactions using crypto tracing software.

According to a recent report, the Australian police found the hardware wallet during a drug raid at a residence but waited about three weeks to obtain court permission to access it. Upon accessing the wallet, there was no Bitcoins at all, having allegedly been emptied shortly after the raid.

The hardware wallet allegedly had 81.62 Bitcoin, valued at $309,000 at the time of the raid in 2019. However, at the time of publication, it is worth approximately $4.2 million USD.

Detective Sergeant Deon Achtypis of the cyber crime squad indicated that authorities initially believed an associate of the crime syndicate was responsible for the Bitcoin theft.

The suspicion came about as the police force also discovered a device containing the seed phrase to the hardware wallet, which is a sequence of 12 to 24 random words that can be used as a recovery method in case the wallet is stolen or lost.

However, after an extensive investigation looking into IP addresses used to access the stolen Bitcoin, Achtypis allegedly found a link to federal agent William Wheatley.

“I formed the opinion that a police member may have been involved in the movement of the cryptocurrency.”

Advancements in crypto detective software technology is leading to a higher rate of recovered stolen crypto. On Jan. 29, Cointelegraph reported that over $674 million was recovered from more than 600 large-scale crypto hacks in 2023.

Meanwhile,Wheatley is pleading innocent against accusations of exploiting his position as a public officer for personal gain, theft, and involvement with proceeds of crime.

He is reportedly prepared to contest the charges related to the crypto theft. This comes amid Trezor’s acknowledgment of a security breach affecting nearly 66,000 users.

On January 20, Cointelegraph reported that Trezor disclosed unauthorized entry into a third-party support portal on January 17. The company warned that individuals who had engaged with Trezor’s support team since December 2021 might have had their data compromised in the incident.


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