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Australian Detective Accused of Bitcoin Theft from Trezor Hardware Wallet

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of Australia has leveled allegations against a federal police officer, claiming that he stole Bitcoin (BTC) from a hardware wallet during a drug raid, a move valued at over $4 million at current market prices.

Reports indicate that during a drug raid, a Trezor hardware wallet containing 81.62 Bitcoins was discovered, along with a device containing the seed phrase necessary for recovery in case of theft or loss. However, upon gaining court approval for access to the wallet, investigators found no Bitcoins, as Detective Sergeant William Wheatley had allegedly transferred them shortly after the raid.

The trail led investigators to the crypto exchange Binance, where it was discovered that an IP address associated with accessing the stolen coins was linked to the former AFP headquarters. Initially, suspicions were directed toward an associate of the crime syndicate, but subsequent analysis of IP addresses led the NACC to focus on Wheatley’s potential involvement.

Despite maintaining his innocence against charges of exploiting his public position for personal gain, theft, or involvement with criminal proceeds, Wheatley faces accusations related to the missing Bitcoins from the Trezor wallet and is preparing to challenge them.

At the time of the theft, the stolen BTCs were valued at approximately $309,000, but have since surged to roughly $4.2 million.

Crypto Theft Challenges Web3 Industry

Cryptocurrency theft remains a significant challenge within the Web3 industry, with cybercriminals exploiting vulnerabilities on crypto platforms to enrich themselves. In 2022, over $3.7 billion worth of crypto was stolen, with tactics including hacking digital wallets and deceiving users into disclosing private keys.

While cryptocurrency theft persisted in 2023, there was a decrease in stolen funds compared to the previous year, with hackers absconding with approximately $2 billion in digital assets.

Government-sponsored cyber espionage groups, such as North Korea’s Kimsuky and Lazarus Group, have emerged as key perpetrators of cryptocurrency thefts, stealing between $630 to $1 billion by attacking international aerospace and defense businesses’ networks.

The Rise of Crypto-Tracing Tools

Despite these challenges, the rise of crypto-tracing tools has introduced a new era of transparency and accountability in the digital currency world. These tools enable law enforcement organizations and cybersecurity professionals to track and analyze cryptocurrency transactions, aiding in the identification of individuals involved in illicit activities.

Trezor Data Breach Alert

On Jan. 21, Trezor, a hardware cryptocurrency wallet provider, raised a security alert following a data breach in their third-party support ticketing portal. While investigations are ongoing, Trezor has warned users of phishing attacks attempting to obtain recovery seeds and reassured them that no evidence suggests a compromise of users’ digital assets.

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