Over £4 million has been returned to rightful owners following an international cryptocurrency scam that was rumbled by Greater Manchester Police.
It’s come after a sum of $22.25 million (which is equivalent to just over £16 million) was seized by specialist officers from Greater Manchester Police’s Economic Crime Unit in July 2021, when intelligence led to the discovery of USB sticks containing huge amounts of Ethereum – the second largest Crypto-currency after BitCoin.
A total of 150 victims from all over the world contacted officers in the unit following the scam-bust, which GMP says saw millions invested in a fake savings and trading service.
Over £4 million has now been returned to 23 verified victims, and another 127 reported claims are currently being investigated by officers alongside partners in international law enforcement across the globe.
Victims based in the UK, United States, Europe, China, Australia and Hong Kong had deposited money, including life savings, into what they thought was an online savings and trading service using Binance Smart Chain – which stores and records transactions made in crypto-currency confirming their movement and value.
The scammers operating the service waited until a significant amount of money had been deposited, before shutting down their website and transferring the funds into their own accounts.
Unfortunately for them, the scammers did not disappear without trace.
Specialist officers received intelligence that those running the scheme had been in Manchester for a limited time and tracked them down, and
Officers first recovered an encrypted USB stick containing $9.5 million of stolen Ethereum, and they found a further $12.7million a few days later after locating a Cryptograph safety deposit box – which is effectively an online safe – and the code to access it.
A 23-year-old male and a 25-year-old female were arrested for fraud and money laundering offences, but they have since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
It’s not over yet either, as another £7 million still needs to be claimed by rightful owners.
Speaking on the return of the funds, and issuing a warning on cryptocurreny services, Detective Chief Inspector Joe Harrop – from GMP’s Economic and Cyber Crime Unit – said: “Anyone involved in these cryptocurrency and trading services are urged to take extreme caution and do a lot of research as there are still huge risks.
“Online currency and trading is incredibly technical and need in-depth knowledge in order to make sure your money is safe.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“Thankfully, we’ve returned over four million pounds to 23 individual victims and we’re continuing to work through a large number of other reported claims where we can hopefully return even more money [but] we believe there may still be victims out there from all over the world who are owed some of this money we rumbled half a year ago.”
Anyone who thinks they may be affected by this particular scam should get in touch with GMP on [email protected] with the following details:
The name of the savings and trading service invested in
The name of the law enforcement you reported the crime to, and officer details
Wallet addresses and documentation to prove ownership
Teenager stabbed to death at house party in Leeds named, as murder investigation launched
A 17-year-old who was fatally stabbed at a house party in Leeds has been named by police, as a murder investigation is launched.
The victim has been named as Trust Junior Jordan Gangata, known to his loved ones as TJ.
TJ was fatally wounded in an incident at a house in Salisbury Grove, Armley, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Four men have been arrested on suspicion of murder – an 18 year old man from Huddersfield, and three men from Bradford, one aged 18 and two aged 19. They remain in custody.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Weekes said: “Trust’s family are going through an incredibly difficult time, and we have specially trained family liaison officers supporting them.
“We are keeping them fully updated as we continue to progress the investigation into his murder, with the four men we have arrested remaining in custody.
“Trust’s family have asked that people respect their privacy as they try to come to terms with having him taken from them in such sudden and violent circumstances.
“We continue to appeal for anyone who was at the party where Trust was attacked and who has any information that could assist the investigation to come forward and tell us what they know.”
They wrote: “It is with great sadness to report that one of our Lower Sixth students, Trust ‘TJ’ Gangata, tragically lost his life in the early hours of Sunday morning. The College community is devastated by this news and we have him, his family, and his friends in our thoughts and prayers.
“Students, particularly his friends, will find this news very difficult to understand and accept. Our Achievement Tutors, Safeguarding Team, and College Counsellors are available to all who need support. The Chapel is also available for all who need a quiet space.
“Trust’s teachers described him as a “friendly, sociable, and kind student who always contributed positively in class”. Friends of Trust called him “hardworking, funny, and loyal” who was “a role model to his friends and always had a smile on his face”.”
A scene remains in place around the address in Salisbury Grove to undergo forensic examination and specialist searches.
Information can be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Featured image: West Yorkshire Police
RMT Union members ‘overwhelmingly’ vote to accept new pay offer
RMT Union has announced that its members have “overwhelmingly” voted to accept a new offer covering pay, jobs, and conditions.
In a statement revealing the outcome of the vote to accept the “improved offer” released today, the rail union said that 20,000 of its members voted by 76% to 24% in favour – which is said to mean the end of the trade dispute with Network Rail.
It comes after a series of strikes were staged over several months.
The offer voted in favour of includes an uplift on salaries of between 14.4% for the lowest paid grades to 9.2% or the highest paid, and a total uplift on basic earnings between 15.2% for the lowest paid grades to 10.3% for the highest paid grades – which represents an additional 1.1% over the duration of the deal, according to RMT.
Other “key factors” of the offer, according to RMT, includes discounted rail travel benefits for members.
The offer also includes increased backpay, and a renewing of the ‘no compulsory redundancy agreement’ until January 2025.
On top of this, RMT claims Network Rail will withdraw its previous insistence the offer was conditional on RMT accepting the company ‘modernising maintenance’ agenda – which the union will continue to “scrutinise and challenge”.
Reflecting on the outcome of the vote today, RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said that when the Union first declared the dispute with Network Rail nearly a year ago, RMT was told that Network Rail workers would only get 2-3%.
“However, since then strike action and the inspiring solidarity and determination of members has secured new money,” he added.
“A new offer which has been clearly accepted by our members and that dispute is now over.”
Mr Lynch did, however, confirm that rail passengers will still face disruption from strike action scheduled for 30 March and 1 April, as they are still yet to strike a deal with the 14 train operating companies represented by the Rail Delivery Group.
“Our dispute with the train operating companies remains firmly on and our members recent highly effective strike action across the fourteen train companies has shown their determination to secure a better deal,” he explained.
“If the government now allows the train companies to make the right offer, we can then put that to our members but until then the strike action scheduled will take place.