Physical bitcoin tokens
Image: Vasilis Chatzopoulos via Unsplash

UK police return £8 million in bitcoin stolen by chronically ill bed-bound thief

Police in Lancashire in North West England have managed to return around £8 million ($10 million) in bitcoin to a man whose cryptocurrency was stolen back in 2017.

It follows four people being sentenced earlier this year for their part in a £20 million ($25 million) hack after they discovered a glitch in how the Australian crypto trading website CoinSpot recorded transactions.

James Parker, from the infamously run-down seaside town of Blackpool, was the alleged mastermind of the plot and coordinated the conspiracy from his council flat. Parker, who was ultimately bed-bound with chronic health issues as reported by Bloomberg, died in 2021 before he could be prosecuted.

The surviving members of the conspiracy, Stephen Boys, Jordan Robinson, Kelly Caton and James Auston-Beddoes were sentenced to more than 15 years between them for their part in the heist.

Once Parker discovered he could make withdrawals from the Australian site, he began to siphon cryptocurrency out over a three-month period which was then exchanged for cash.

Lancashire Police say the conspiracy was only discovered after Caton called the police to report that her daughter had stolen 15 bitcoin from her, prompting police to question where Caton had acquired the money from, although Bloomberg reported that CoinSpot’s founder had hired a private investigator to track Parker down.

Lancashire Police said that the amount of money the gang stole was so large the perpetrators struggled to spend it, ending up with members handing out £5,000 ($6,200) gift cards to people in the street and Parker buying cars for people he met in the pub.

During the trial Boys — who was described as Parker’s corrupt financial adviser — said he once took £1 million in cash, hidden in a suitcase, to purchase a villa from “Russians he met in the back office of an estate agent.”

Police investigating the crime recovered 445 bitcoin, alongside “luxury watches, houses, cars and designer goods, including a £600 ($750) wine cooler, along with more than £1m in bank accounts” that are all set to be returned to the victim.

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Alexander Martin

Alexander Martin

is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.