Police in the UK and the Netherlands today arrested six people over a £22m cryptocurrency theft which targeted 4,000 people.

Five men and one woman were apprehended in simultaneous arrests in the southwest of Britain and in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, according to criminal investigation agency, Europol.

They are accused of buying URLs that are misspellings of well-known cryptocurrency websites–but designed to mimic the sites users were trying to reach–in order to steal funds and login passwords, a practice known as “typosquatting.” 

Hackers exploit the unwitting victim’s typographical error and lead them to a spoof website they own, which appears identical to the real thing. 

In some cases, typosquatters may also phishing strategies, sending emails to persuade users to visit their fake websites.

 

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The suspects were identified in a 14-month investigation launched when a UK-based victim reported the theft of £1,700-worth of Bitcoin to police. 

A British police detective inspector told the UK’s Swindon Advertiser: “The investigation has grown from a single report of £17k worth of bitcoin stolen from a Wiltshire-based victim to a current estimate of more than 4,000 victims in at least 12 countries. We expect that number to grow.”

Police seized a "large number of devices, equipment and valuable assets” at the crime scenes. 

Perhaps some of the 4,000 victims may even get their bitcoin back. Just goes to show, it pays to report crypto crime to the police.