Published on: February 2, 2024
Authorities in Germany have claimed over 50,000 stolen Bitcoin, which translates into roughly $2.1 billion. This marks Germany’s largest Bitcoin seizure.
The seizure comes after a lengthy investigation into the abandoned piracy website movie2k[.]io. For years the website let users post links to free downloads for movies, shows, and similar files. The website is similar to thepiratebay, though it was never quite as popular.
On top of hosting illegal movies, the owners, a 40-year-old German and a 37-year-old Polish national, committed commercial exploitation of the copyrighted material stored on its site. The website collected profits by hosting ads and converted those profits into Bitcoin in an attempt to stay anonymous.
German police tried to bust the website hosts multiple times, including implementing ISP-level bans (which ultimately failed) and even catching a programmer who worked for the owners. He forked over $27 million in Bitcoin while in detention, a pittance compared to the new $2 billion takedown.
The investigations were aided by a wide range of German legal and government organizations, and even the US FBI. The state criminal office of Saxony, the tax office in Leipzig, and the Federal Criminal Police Office worked together alongside smaller independent agencies and international agents to narrow in on the suspects.
“The seizure of the bitcoins took place after the voluntary transfer by a suspect on official wallets provided by the BKA. This means that a final decision has not yet been made on the exploitation of Bitcoins,” the Saxony Police said in a recent press release.
It’s possible that more Bitcoin is being held by other potential owners or conspirators. Prosecutors are continuing to look for additional suspects. Details are still sparse since the case is still ongoing — however, the arrests mark a potentially decisive takedown in the fight against piracy.
“No further information will be provided until the investigation has been completed,” the release said.