He hid $3.36 billion in stolen bitcoins in a popcorn box

This is an unusual case revealed this week by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). The police have thus announced the seizure of 3.36 billion dollars of bitcoins from James Zhong, an American residing in the state of Georgia. The latter pleaded guilty to electronic fraud committed in September 2012. He now faces more than 20 years in prison.

A record seizure of cryptocurrency

In this story, it is also the story of the civil servants that commands attention. Indeed, the latter seized 50,676 bitcoins from his home in September 2021. This is the result of a very long investigation and the whereabouts of the stolen cryptocurrency remained a mystery for a very long time. According to the price of the time, this represents well 3.36 billion, against a little more than a billion today.

Authorities found the cryptocurrency on a computer stashed under blankets, in an underground safe, and…in a box of popcorn cleverly placed in a bathroom closet.

The defendant had recovered his money on the illegal dark web marketplace Silk Road created by the famous Ross Ulbricht. There was everything, and especially the sale of drugs in bitcoins. It is within this framework that James Zhong operated.

According to the DOJ, this is the largest cryptocurrency seizure in US history, and it is the second largest financial seizure to date. The Ministry of Justice specifies as a warning: This case shows we won’t stop following the money, no matter how cleverly hidden, even to a circuit board in the bottom of a popcorn box. “.

The explosion of cryptocurrency theft worries

This case takes place in a very specific context for the cryptocurrency sector. We are indeed witnessing this year an explosion of thefts on trading platforms. One of the most emblematic cases this year is probably the hack of the Ronin network on which the game Axie Infinity runs. At least $615 million was stolen in this major hack.

The network manager specified last March: “ We work with authorities, cryptographers and our investors to ensure that all funds are recovered or refunded. He immediately added that “the majority of hacked funds are still in the hacker’s wallet “. If you are interested in the subject, you can read our article which goes into more depth on this very worrying phenomenon.

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