Young Australian Woman Accused of Stealing 100,000 XRP Pleads Guilty

Siamak Masnavi

Katherine Nguyen, the first Australian charged with cryptocurrency theft, has pleaded guilty.

Background

On 25 October 2018, according to a report in media outlet "news.com.ua", police in the state of New South Wales in Australia arrested a 23-year-old woman from Sydney over the alleged theft of 100,000 XRP tokens.

Apparently, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad had set up a task force back in January 2018 to investigate the reported theft of 100,000 XRP tokens from a 56-year-old man. The investigators were told by the alleged victim that he was locked out of his email account for two days in mid-January 2018, but he thinks that his email account may have gotten hacked in December 2017.

After he managed to eventually get back control of his email account, he noticed some suspicious activity involving his cryptocurrency account, and when he checked this wallet, he found that almost all of the crypto there had disappeared.

However, after an approximately ten-month investigation, on 25 October 2018, detectives used a search warrant to get access to the young woman's home, arrested her, and took her to Ryde (a suburb of Sydney) Police station, where they charged her with "knowingly deal with proceeds of crime." 

The police were alleging that the woman (possibility with the help of others) took over the man's email account, changed his password, thereby locking him account, and then set up two factor authentication using a mobile phone number. It is further alleged that she then accessed his crypto account, and transferred his XRP tokens to a crypto exchange in China, where this XRP was converted to Bitcoin.

Latest Development

On Friday (August 23), Australian TV news channel 7NEWS sent out the following tweet:

According to their report, in January 2018, Nguyen, the alleged cryptocurrency thief, "hijacked" the email account of a 56-year old man with the same surname as her. 

The report goes on to say that although Nguyen has pleaded guilty, there is "still some dispute over the exact facts," which will hopefully be "settled at a special hearing in October" (this hearing has been given the task of preparing "a pre-sentence report").

When she is sentenced in October, there is a real possibility that she will have to go to jail.

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com

The Coronavirus Outbreak Is Delaying China’s Digital Currency Research

China’s research into the launch of its own digital currency has reportedly been delayed over the coronavirus outbreak, which according to recent data has infected over 81,000 people worldwide and claimed the lives of 2,765.

According to the Global Times, an anonymous source close to the matter has detailed that the outbreak forced several government institutions to slow down. The source was quoted as saying:

The coronavirus outbreak has led to postponed work resumption in government institutions, including the People's Bank of China (PBC). Policymakers and research staff involved in the DCEP project are no exception, which weighs on the development process.

Commenting on the case the CEO of a Shenzhen-based blockchain firm involved in the launch of the digital currency, Shentu Qingchun, noted the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, was expected to make an important announcement during Q1 of this year.

Qingchun added, however, there’s only a month left and as such “chances that the announcement could be made on time are slim.” The currency, called Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), is still being developed and officials are discussing scenarios in which it could circulate as cash.

The source noted that the digital currency could still be launched on time as the central bank has “abundant talent” that can help it deal with the delay in research. Per Shentu, since the DCEP is a digital currency it would help reduce hand-to-hand contact among individuals, which has helped the coronavirus outbreak spread. As such, policymakers could give the DCEP more attention.

The Global Times’ source added that research into the DCEP has “achieved fruitful results” and that it’s close to an end. The central bank’s research institute, per the report, has applied for 65 patents involving digital currencies, while its institute of printing science and technology has applied for 22.

Featured image by Floriane Vita on Unsplash.