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
Yellow weather warning could bring ‘winds of up to 80mph’ and heavy rain to North West
Autumn is well and truly underway as colder temperatures have already started to descend on the UK. Now, though, high winds and heavy rain are expected to hit various regions across the nation.
The Met Office announced a yellow weather warning on Monday afternoon, predicting that strong gusts of winds exceeding 55mph are set to affect northern and western parts of the UK on Wednesday.
Meteorologist Alex Deakin said Brits should prepare for a “blusterous and boisterous” week ahead.
A yellow weather warning can encompass everything from injuries and danger to life caused by flying debris, to structural damage, disruption to travel and public transport, as well power cuts and more.
‘Persistent rain and stronger winds’ are already said to be battering parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland, before beginning to sink into more central areas of the UK from Tuesday onwards.
With rainfall expected to measure in at between 30-50mm across western Scotland – as much as 80mm across some mountainous areas – the low pressure is due to hit the northern and western parts of England on Tuesday night.
Experts have warned that while they are yet to nail down the exact details of peak wind strengths, they could easily surpass 55-65mph.
“There is a chance the deep low pressure system will bring gusts of 70 to 80 mph to northern parts of the UK on Wednesday”, says Sherwin, warning that “should this develop, disruption to travel and wind damage would be more likely. In addition, heavy rain in the northwest may make travelling more difficult.”
Stronger gales will remain on the cards for the North West as well as some significant rain, with the heaviest showers expected to fall on more western regions.
Best get weighing those bins down and preparing for a potential work-from-home day.
In just seconds, the entire ceiling is ablaze, with terrified customers scrambling for the exit.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service released the video in a bid to raise awareness and prevent any similar incidents at hospitality venues in the city-region.
The shocking incident occurred in a shisha bar in Rusholme, in May this year.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, but several people were taken to hospital with suspected burns.
In both this instance and in the One Eight Six incident, the cause of the blaze was determined as being ‘indoor fireworks igniting decorations, which then burned rapidly allowing the fire to spread’.
GMFRS is now working with licensing teams from the 10 councils in Greater Manchester to offer free information and advice sessions to owners and managers of cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants in advance of the Halloween, World Cup and the Christmas party season.
Leon Parkes, GMFRS’s director of prevention and protection, said: “Hospitality venues have a responsibility to keep their customers and staff safe and at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service we want to help businesses to understand their legal responsibilities and take action to protect their property, staff and customers from fire.
“We have seen a couple of instances in the past year in Manchester where fires have broken out in venues caused by indoor fireworks setting light to decorations.
“While fortunately fires don’t occur very often, the impact of a fire can be devastating and many businesses don’t recover.
“Pubs, bars and other venues will be very, very busy during October, November and December. It’s important that staff prepare by getting trained in what they need to do and that they don’t inadvertently create a fire risk.
“We know that the last two years have been really difficult for hospitality businesses and hopefully the forthcoming World Cup and Christmas period will be a boost for them. We gave out fire safety advice in May last year as Covid-19 restrictions eased and we are now working with our partners to help hospitality businesses be safe and stay safe.”