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Surrey Police Seize £1m+ in Digital Currency for Government Coffers

Surrey Police has become the first force in the UK to convert Bitcoin to cash after seizing over £1.2m worth of the cryptocurrency from the member of an organized crime gang.

Latvian national Sergejs Teresko was apparently kidnapped from his home in Virginia Water in April last year, with neighbors and his girlfriend raising the alarm. However, when police arrived at the rented house they found it had been turned into a cannabis growing operation.

Also in the property were £263,000 in cash, various designer watches including a £12,000 Rolex, and a Keepkey digital wallet device.

This was found to contain 295 Bitcoin, worth nearly £1.8m in today’s prices but around £1.2m back then. Surrey Police then sold the currency on a Bitcoin exchange

“The CPS secured an order permitting the restrained Bitcoin to be converted into pounds, before a confiscation order was made — the first time the Proceeds of Crime Act has been used in this way,” said Nick Price, head of the proceeds of crime team at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

“Our dedicated proceeds of crime team restrained the criminal proceeds at an early stage for the purposes of this confiscation order to ensure that Teresko’s crimes do not pay.”

Teresko was found to have made over £2m from his crimes and ordered to pay back over £1.4m of it within three months or be forced to spend another decade in prison. He was convicted of money laundering and drug offences at Kingston Crown Court recently and sentenced to nine years and three months.

“Cryptocurrency is used legitimately by a lot of people but it’s also used by criminals. We know that in dark marketplaces bitcoin is the chosen medium of exchange,” said detective inspector Matt Durkin.

“We were not going to accept that bitcoin was out of the reach of law enforcement, it’s not and nor are other types of cryptocurrency.”

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