The £240,000 of cryptocurrency confiscated from a teenager who was jailed for hacking ISP TalkTalk has been auctioned by police with the proceeds going towards fighting crime.
Elliott Gunton, (now 19) was jailed for 20 months in August this year for hacking offences, money laundering and for the breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order that was issued to him in 2016 for another offence. The hack on ISP TalkTalk took place when Gunton was 16 years old, and he is reported to have sold the stolen customer data on the dark web to other cybercriminals for £2,469 in bitcoin.
The total amount that police were able to trace that was raised by sales of the stolen data was around £275,000 worth of cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin Ripple and Ethereum.
Mr Gunton is reported to have used sophisticated methods to hide the large amount of cryptocurrency under his control but left several key clues which led to his arrest. These included describing himself on a Twitter account as a “full-time crypto trader”, tweeting about how he had lots of money without people knowing, and telling a police officer that he was dealing in shares and would soon be a millionaire.
Mr Gunton’s parents were also charged (at a later date) with helping their son to move some of his cryptocurrency, earned from dark web sales, out of a seized police-bitcoin wallet.
The auction of the cryptocurrency, via Wilson’s Auctions, by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit of the police was the first auction of its kind. Chief Inspector Martin Peters, of the ERSOU Cyber Crime Unit, is reported as saying that the sale would be a way to instil public confidence in the police force’s method of recouping the proceeds of crime in a way that was secure, innovative and transparent.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
We often hear reports about hacks and dark web sales of data but we rarely hear about convictions or about what happens to the proceeds of crime for those hackers who have been successfully convicted. For many businesses and individuals who have fallen victim to cybercriminals, a report of this kind may offer some kind of reassurance that something is being done, and in a productive way that puts more money into fighting crime.
For those victims of the TalkTalk hack, who may well have been targeted by cybercriminals after having their details stolen and sold by Gunton, they may well have wished for tighter security by TalkTalk in the first place and may hope that ISPs are investing enough of their own money in keeping their cyber defences up to date.