Wybo Wiersma, a 40-year-old Dutchman who studied at St Cross College, Oxford, will serve a 54-month prison sentence for stealing £2,156,000 (more than $2.6 million) using a cryptocurrency scheme.

UK detectives linked the scam to the man who used the pseudonym Norbert van den Berg on his malicious website and in his university courses.

‘Greed and dishonesty’ behind the scam

Judge Michael Gledhill KC tidy Wiersma to spend four and a half years in prison for his crime. The criminal started his cryptocurrency fraud when he was a student at St Cross College’s Internet Institute.

He set up a website under a fake name, which generated “seeds” (passwords that users believed were not compromised). They were needed to use MIOTA, a cryptocurrency with a current market capitalization of over $620 million.

However, malicious code was attached to the “seeds”, allowing Wiersma to access customer assets. He started stealing funds and transferred them to his accounts. The criminal subsequently converted the stolen MIOTA stash into Monero (XMR) using Bitfinex in January 2018.

The platform intercepted their dubious activities and froze their accounts, requesting proof of identification. Wiersma provided fake passports, one of a Belgian resident and one of an Australian named “Jason.”

Bitfinex did not authorize those documents, which led the Dutchman to use Binance services. The world’s leading crypto exchange quickly detected their plans and suspended their access to accounts.

Several affected investors reported the disappearance of their assets to the German police in 2018. The latter cooperated with their British colleagues and launched an investigation that eventually led them to Wiersma’s home in Oxford.

UK law enforcement officers raided the location, saw his open desktop computer and traced his activities over the past few years. When asked about the website, he provided no information and briefly returned to the Netherlands.

However, detectives continued to work on the case and discovered that he used the pseudonym Norbert van den Berg on the seed generation website and in his university courses. They also connected the nickname to a bitcoin payment.

Authorities arrested him on Christmas Eve 2020 in the Netherlands and sentenced him more than two years later. In announcing the punishment, Judge Gledhill stated:

“You are an expert in IT and computer science… The fact is that you decided to abuse your abilities to steal. This is dishonesty at the highest level. Why did you commit these crimes? Greed and dishonesty are the two words that easily come to mind.”

Cryptographic schemes in the UK

Such fraud has been very popular in the UK for the past few years, and the market crash in 2022 did not stop the activities of the bad factors. In fact, crypto scams increase by a third between October 2021 and September 2022.

David Lindberg, Executive Director of Retail Banking for NatWest, formerly warned investors that the UK is a “haven” for scammers. He urged the British government, police, banks and social media operators to join forces to tackle the problem:

“Fraud and scams are an industry. They’re smart and they move fast, and it’s heartbreaking to watch them try to destroy lives.”

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This post Oxford Student Goes to Prison for Stealing $2.6 Million Through Crypto Scam

was published first on https://cryptopotato.com/oxford-student-goes-to-prison-for-stealing-2-6m-via-a-crypto-scam/


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