Wybo Wiersma, a Dutchman aged 40 who was educated at Oxford’s St Cross College, will be serving a 54-month sentence for stealing more than $2.6 million (PS2,156,000) through a cryptocurrency scheme.
UK detectives connected the scam to the man who claimed the pseudonym Norbert Van den Berg on his malicious website as well as in university coursework.
The Scam is based on ‘Greed and Dishonesty’
Judge Michael Gledhill, KC ordered Wiersma will spend four-and-a-half years in prison for this offense. Wiersma was a student at the Internet Institute St Cross College when he began his crypto fraud.
A website he created under a false name generated “seeds”, which were passwords that users believed weren’t compromised. They were required to use MIOTA, a cryptocurrency that has a market capitalization of more than $620 million.
Wiersma was able to access clients’ assets by attaching a malicious code to the “seeds”. He began to steal funds and transfer them into his account. In January 2018, the criminal used Bitfinex to convert the MIOTA stash into Monero, XMR.
The platform intercepted his suspicious activities and frozen his accounts. It also requested proof of identification. Wiersma supplied fake passports, one from a Belgian resident, and one from an Australian man named “Jason”.
Bitfinex didn’t authorize these documents. This prompted Binance to use Binance’s services. The world’s largest crypto exchange detected his plans and suspended his access to the accounts.
In 2018, a number of investors were affected and reported their missing assets the German police. They cooperated with British colleagues and opened an investigation that led them to Wiersma’s Oxford home.
The UK enforcement agents searched the area, found his computer open, and began tracking his activities over the last few years. He did not respond to questions about the website and returned briefly back to the Netherlands.
Detectives continued to investigate the case, and discovered that Norbert van den Berk was using the pseudonym Norbert von der Berg on the seed-generating website and in his university coursework. They also linked the nickname to a bitcoin payment.
He was arrested by the authorities in the Netherlands on Christmas Eve 2020 and sentenced two years later. Judge Gledhill announced the sentence after he had spoken.
“You’re an IT expert and computer science specialist… But the truth is that you used your IT skills to steal. This is dishonesty at its highest. These offenses were committed by you. “Greed and dishonesty” are two words that immediately spring to mind.
The UK Crypto Schemes
These types of fraud have been very popular in the United Kingdom for the past few years. Even though the market declined in 2022, it did not stop the activities of the bad guys. In fact, crypto scams Increasing Between October 2021 & September 2022, by one third
David Lindberg, Chief Executive Officer at NatWest Retail Banking – previously Beware Investors believe that the UK is a “paradise for fraudsters”. He called on the British police, banks and the British government to work together to address the problem.
Fraud and scams are a big industry. They are intelligent and fast and it is heartbreaking to watch how they attempt to destroy people’s lives.