Bulgarian police have arrested and charged 3 people accused of stealing $5 million in cryptocurrencies, Reuters reports.
The arrests were announced Monday by officials from the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior and local prosecutors.
Police seized $3 million in cryptocurrency at the scene as well as computers and a notebook containing details on accounts, both authentic and falsely-registered, used in the hacks.
Prosecutors said the attackers were very skilled and knowledgeable about cryptocurrency trading and used clever methods and special software to execute their attacks.
Reuters cites data from CypherTrace showing that cryptocurrency thefts from exchanges increased by 250% in the first nine months of 2018- for a total of $927 million stolen from exchanges so far.
Almost two-thirds of that money was stolen from the Japanese exchange Coincheck when it was hacked for an estimated $533 million in cryptocurrency last January. The crime remains unsolved.
Bulgaria has a developed IT sector and the small country is no stranger to crypto-related fraud.
Bulgaria is the epicenter of the notorious OneCoin cryptocurrency project, an alleged pyramid/Ponzi scheme of global proportions that has been publicly denounced by financial regulators in Uganda, Nigeria, Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Samoa among others.
Consumer protection website Behind MLM reports that OneCoin’s Konstantin Ignatov presented in Argentina in July, where he told the “worried faces” of OneCoin investors that the company had decided not to go public in October of this year, despite having previously announced plans to do so.
Ignatov told the audience that the company will instead be selling “OFC Bundles” tied to the company’s “OFC point” system, which, according to BehindMLM, “are yet another layer of virtual points within OneCoin.”
As well, the Chief Secretary and the Head of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad (SABA), Petar Haralampiev, was detained by Bulgarian police earlier this month and charged with selling EU passports for Bitcoins.
Local media say Haralampiev sold Bulgarian citizenship to, “fraudulent applicants from Ukraine, Moldova, and Macedonia, all countries with significant minorities of ethnic Bulgarians, (who each) paid £4,445 for bogus certificates showing their family’s origins in Bulgaria.”
Bulgaria is part of the EU, whereas the Ukraine, Moldova, and Macedonia are not, and a Bulgarian passport allows free movement throughout the EU.