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Crypto Tracking &Tracing - What can be achieved?
 Marlon Pinto

Marlon Pinto

Crypto Tracking &Tracing - What can be achieved?

Up until December 2020, it is believed that there were no ICO (Initial Coin Offering) fraud cases that had gone before the UK Commercial Court - well not until we were involved... 

What happened and what did we do?

Cryptocurrency scams, or crypto fraud, is where one party tries to trick another into sending them money.

Typically, the fraudster will approach you in the guise of a legitimate investor. They claim to have found a fantastic investment opportunity and invite you to contribute your own funds - this is exactly what happened in this recent case. 

Our client contacted us directly after he believed that he may have been a victim of a cryptocurrency ICO fraud after he invested GBP 577k into various crypto currency investment opportunities. Unsure if it was a fraud, our specialist investigators created a bespoke investigation strategy to identify if a crime had taken place.

Firstly, to establish whether he was a victim, our investigators completed the following;

  • Gathered and analysed traditional evidence such as witness statements, documents, access control logs, and open source intelligence (OSINT) on individuals of concern;
  • Using specialist analytical tools, we identified where the funds were moving through and mapped these out in a visual, easy to understand diagram;
  • Assessed from an intelligence perspective where, how, and how much was being ‘cashed out’;
  • Traced the transactions through the blockchain to exchange services;
  • Actively monitored wallets that contained stolen funds so that our specialist investigators were immediately informed about any new inbound/outbound transactions;
  • Provided an expert report of our findings and supplementary affidavit.

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The result

Following our robust investigation that allowed us to identify the exchange services, and the creation of comprehensive case bundle; we liaised with a specialist law firm and external counsel to lay out the facts.

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The legal team agreed that there was sufficient evidence to apply for Disclosure Orders and International Freezing Orders at the UK Commercial Courts and both orders were granted by the judge. This resulted in the total loss, and more, being frozen in the fraudster's wallet.

The significance of this case.

In the world of cryptocurrency fraud and asset recovery, this investigation is considered to be a landmark case for the following reasons: 

  1. It is believed to be the first ICO fraud case to go before the Commercial Court.
  2. It is one of the only cases where the court has granted to serve a free-standing Bankers Trust order out of the jurisdiction against cryptocurrency exchanges. 
  3. This is the first time that the court has considered the lex situs (location) of Bitcoin.

For further information on this case (Ion Science Ltd and DuncanJohns v Persons Unknown, Binance Holdings Limited and Payward Limited) or our crypto investigation capabilities, contact Marlon Pinto (Director of Investigations).  

Intelligence that provides stability