Federal investigators have issued an order for 10.2 bitcoins, which they keep in a Huobi Global wallet.
The crypto was stolen from a Coinbase account in a robbery worth $ 11.6 million, the government said.
Investigators said an unknown person sent a notification to a Coinbase user after purchasing 200 bitcoins.
A federal judge this month approved an order to return more than $ 600,000 in bitcoins from Huobi Global’s wallet after federal investigators said it was part of $ 11.6 million stolen from a Coinbase account.
In April, when a Coinbase user purchased 200 bitcoins, a notice appeared warning them that their account had been locked, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. Although it appeared to be a notice from Coinbase, it was not.
Instead, the forged notice was the first step in the alleged fraud. In the moments that followed, nearly $ 11.6 million in cryptocurrencies, about 206 bitcoins, were removed from the user account, investigators said.
It is not clear how the alleged fraudster knew about the Coinbase transaction and whether the online notice listed in the warrant appeared on the phone or computer.
Coinbase declined to comment.
The Coinbase user, who was identified only as GR in court documents, called the phone number in the notice because he thought he would contact a Coinbase customer service representative, according to a federal complaint filed by investigators last month.
“Unidentified Individual 1” or “UI-1” responded to the call and asked GR to make a series of changes to the account in accordance with the complaint.
These changes included allowing remote access to the account, the complaint said.
“Once access to the victim’s account was granted, UI-1 increased the daily transaction limit and attempted to deactivate certain notifications and alert settings on the victim’s account,” Dan G. Boyle, an assistant U.S. attorney, wrote in a U.S. filing document. September in the Central District of California.
In a matter of moments, millions of bitcoins and XLM were removed from GR Coinbase’s account, investigators said.
“The total value of the virtual currency transferred from the victim’s account between 2:02:40 PST and 2:12:41 PST on or about 20 April 2021 was approximately $ 11,570,138 without GR’s permission,” they wrote in their complaint.
The money was then moved by an unknown person through a series of transactions between multiple accounts. About 10.2 bitcoins, according to investigators, ended up in an account with Huobi Global, one of the world’s largest stock exchanges.
Investigators filed a seizure notice seeking to return these bitcoins. Huobi Global did not respond to a request for additional information.
In early October, Judge Dolly M. Gee approved the order request and a notice was issued in case anyone other than GR wanted to claim ownership of 10.2 bitcoins.
“Huobi has agreed to maintain a freeze of funds until the seizure lawsuit is resolved,” Thom Mrozek, director of media relations at the U.S. prosecutor’s office in Los Angeles, told Insider by email. “No one has been arrested or charged, but our investigation is still ongoing.”
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