French entrepreneur steals €1.1 million worth of bitcoin from former firm in revenge for being sacked

29 Dec, 2019 20:53 / Updated 2 years ago

While stealing bitcoin is a new crime, the story behind one of the largest cryptocurrency thefts in the history of France is as old as the world – friends grow apart and one takes revenge for being wronged.

A group of friends started an IT company in 2013 and for a few years all was going smoothly, with profits steadily growing. However, a major rift then broke out among its leadership, which ended with one of the co-founders being shown the door.     

The man went to look for a new job outside France, but he didn’t forget the wrong done to him by his former associates. That’s how a businessman became a hacker.

An investigation established that between December 2018 and January 2019, he used remote transactions to snatch 182 units of bitcoin, which is around €1.1 million ($1.2 million), from the company’s accounts.   

Having the inside-out knowledge of how the firm operates, the man never exceeded the withdrawal limit that automatically triggers an alarm.

But eventually the company found out that the money was gone and went straight to the police. After a few months, the tech-savvy investigators were able to track the digital wallet where the stolen bitcoins were kept and establish its owner. 

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The suspect was back in France at this point, it’s unclear if he was so certain that he had gotten away with his crime or just feeling too homesick.

But it was his big mistake as the entrepreneur was detained a week ago in the Calvados Department. The area in northern France known for its posh resorts and the eponymous alcoholic drink seemed like a perfect place to spend the money, but it won’t be the case now.

The man who admitted to authorities that he acted out of revenge was charged with theft, money laundering as well as illegal access and meddling with an automatic data
processing system.

The local judge put him under travel restrictions pending trial, but the prosecutor’s office in Paris is pushing for this to be replaced with detention.

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