Israeli hacker indicted for suspected theft of NIS 6m cryptocurrency

Bitcoin  Image: Reuters

Eliyahu Gigi from Tel Aviv is charged with offenses under the Computers Law, theft, fraud, aggravated counterfeiting, use of a forged document, perjury, money laundering, and offenses under the Income Tax Ordinance.

An Israel hacker alegedly stole NIS 6.1 million ($1.75 million) in digital currencies from foreign citizens, including Belgians, Dutch, and Germans. The currencies stolen included BTC, Ethereum, and Dash, according to an indictment filed today at the Tel Aviv District Court against Tel Aviv resident Eliyahu Gigi, 31, for offenses under the Computers Law, theft, fraud, aggravated counterfeiting, use of a forged document, perjury, money laundering, and offenses under the Income Tax Ordinance.

According to the indictment, filed by Adv. Yeela Harel from the cyber department in the State Attorney's Office, starting from an unknown time until his arrest in June 2019, Gigi founded and managed a criminal enterprise involving a number of websites that constituted infrastructure for criminal offenses and deriving financial profit for himself. It is alleged that Gigi distributed software to the public through many websites that penetrated many innocent surfer's computers and stole digital currencies of various types held by them.

In order to manage and camouflage his criminal enterprise, the accused used remote servers and camouflaged and concealed the digital currencies. He used applications to conceal the tracks leading to the source and destination of the digital currencies. He transferred the currencies between various wallets, split the currencies he stole, and converted them into different types of digital currencies.

Gigi is also accused of concealing his income in 2012-2013 and fraudulently omitting income he received in 2015 and 2016 amounting to NIS 669,000.

Suspected theft scaled down from $100 million to NIS 6 million

The investigation was conducted by the cyber unit in the Israel Police Lahav 433 squad in cooperation with the Israel Tax Authority Yahalom unit. Gigi was arrested in June together with his younger brother, a 22 year-old demobilized soldier. At the outset of the investigation, suspicions were raised that the two brothers had stolen $100 million from digital accounts kept in bitcoin through an international fishing fraud.

The indictment eventually filed was against only the older brother, and the initial suspicions that $100 million had been stolen were scaled down to NIS 6 million.

The affair originated with information received by the police leading to a suspicion that Gigi had sent messages at forums dealing in digital wallets containing a link to a website seen to make it possible to download software for managing wallets with an instruction to state the user name and password. The particulars filled out by the digital account owners were transferred directly to Gigi, who allegedly took advantage of this to commit criminal acts, including stealing hundreds of digital currencies from digital wallets all over the world.

The digital currencies market has an aggregate value of $257 billion. Its average daily trading turnover is estimated at $88 billion in thousands of trading theaters around the world. Ever since 2009, the leading digital currency has been bitcoin.

As recently reported by "Globes," a study by cryptocurrencies website The Block found that break-ins at cryptocurrencies trading theaters had caused the loss of a total of $1.39 billion in digital currencies.

Presumption of innocence: Eliyahu Gigi has been convicted of no crime. Even after the filing of an indictment against him, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 17, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

Bitcoin  Image: Reuters
Bitcoin Image: Reuters
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