Police from the U.K city of Leicestershire issued a statement regarding the February arrest of darknet vendor, Paul Johnson, on April 18.
Johnson was jailed for eight years and is believed to have made more than $2.5 million from selling narcotics online.
Leicestershire police officer, sergeant Phil Ariss, stated that “digital media investigators accompanied officers on the warrant,” leading to the seizure of roughly $375,300 in crypto assets.
Phil Ariss has specialized in crypto policing since 2016
Ariss has predominantly dealt with cryptocurrency since he joined the East Midlands Special Operations Unit Cybercrime Team in 2016, and then the National Police Chief Council’s (NPCC) Cybercrime program in 2018.
“As more and more criminals turn to using Bitcoins and other methods of financial privacy, it is important we know what to look out for,” stated Ariss, adding “we regularly train officers and staff about the signs of its usage, denying criminals the opportunity to benefit financially.”
His work with the NPCC has seen Ariss work alongside and offer specialized training to domestic and international authorities working to tackle crypto crime.
500 crypto blackmail scams target UK residents since 2018
Ariss stated that when he first joined the police and began working as a neighborhood officer in 2008, he never would have expected it to culminate in him becoming an expert in virtual currencies.
“I have learnt a huge amount about how criminals use this as a means to attempt to remain anonymous,” he said. “It’s not just been used in the illegal drugs market but in other areas including cybercrime, fraud, and blackmail.”
Last month, U.K. police revealed that 562 incidents of Bitcoin (BTC)-related blackmail scams had occurred nationally over the past two years.
Ariss notes several instances in which individuals and businesses have been able to retrieve lost funds after authorities were able to seize crypto assets from criminals.
Innovative technologies require vigilance from law enforcement
Ariss emphasizes the need for law enforcement to understand Bitcoin and keep abreast of the evolving cryptocurrency landscape:
“As more and more criminals turn to using Bitcoins and other methods of financial privacy, it is important we know what to look out for, and we regularly train officers and staff about the signs of its usage, denying criminals the opportunity to benefit financially.”