Chinese authorities have arrested three individuals on suspicion of stealing bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies worth around $87 million.
Local media reported Sunday that police in the northern city of Xian have detained three men suspected of stealing approximately 600 million yuan ($87M USD) worth of cryptocurrency through hacking. Xian police began investigating in March when a victim, surnamed Zhang, complained that his computer had been hacked and 100 million yuan ($14.5M USD) in bitcoin and ethereum had been stolen.
The authorities, with the help of several Chinese Internet companies, located a suspect with the surname Zhou in the central province of Hunan. Zhou’s communications led to two more alleged accomplices, who were described having studied hacking technology since they were aged around 12 and 13 and had gone on to work at top Internet firms.
The authorities reportedly put the suspects under around-the-clock surveillance before detaining them in coordinated raids on August 15. The police said the case is still under investigation.
The Chinese government prohibited initial coin offerings (ICO) about a year ago. In September 2017, the government also ordered local crypto exchanges to suspend operations and blocked access to overseas crypto websites offering services to local residents.
According to a recent report by the Chinese judiciary, as of the first week of August, there were 274 pending legal cases related to cryptocurrency. Of those, 126 were criminal cases, involving mostly property and economic crimes. Another 107 were civil cases about breach of contract and mismanagement, and two were administrative cases. Unclear regulations and unofficial restrictions are reportedly making it harder for Chinese courts to resolve these cases.
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