It appears that every country has its very own crypto crime story these days. From Bulgaria’s missing millions to Japan’s crypto crime crackdown, no country has escaped – Israel included. In an interesting story, Hebron’s cybercrime division has announced that it has seized more than 1,000 Bitcoin during a recent credit card sting.
Money laundering madness
The man at the heart of the sting is 33 year-old Hilmi Git. The Palestinian resident of Hebron was arrested by Israeli police in late April, with his crime operation being nothing short of huge. He allegedly carried out 200,000 fraudulent transactions using more than 800 stolen credit cards. The scale of his crimes astounded local authorities, as Git made transactions equaling more than $280,000. He is also accused of laundering over $8 million during a decade-long fraud spree. Git stored the laundered funds in Bitcoin, with the state tracking down these funds – equaling 1,071 BTC – and holding them as proceeds of crime pending a conviction.
10 years of crime
Git’s crimes spanned a 10-year period, as he frequented various different sites and forums in an attempt to draw others into his criminal web. With the help of others, he was able to launder huge sums of money, along with facilitating credit card fraud on a widespread scale. Git had earned such a reputation for his illicit activities, that he even became a source of education within crime circles. Reports have revealed that he was instructing others on how to remotely access computers to rob funds – defrauding unwitting visitors to his sites along the way.
Scam sales and so much more
His most noteworthy scam came as he assumed the guise of a mobile phone salesman. Through his website he would sell cheap devices to victims, before blocking them from the site following payment and cutting off contact. After that, he would take over the person’s profile, posting fake messages under the person’s name confirming that goods had been received, effectively establishing the site as “legitimate” and luring in more victims.
In terms of severity, it’s his credit card activities that are the most chilling. After securing the relevant details, he offered other criminals multi-tier memberships that allowed them to access credit card information that Git had stolen. Over time, Git became the core figure in multiple large-scale fraud operations. Stealing, hacking, and supplementing other criminals, it’s no wonder he became a wanted man in the eyes of Israeli authorities.
No remorse, no sympathy
Following his arrest, Git showed absolutely no remorse for his victims, as he said, “We are thieves. Anywhere we can take money, we’ll take it, whether it’s from Israel, the US, or even the moon.” What’s clear is that Git is proud of his crimes, going as far to refer to the crime ring that he was propping up.
In most cases of fraud and white-collar crime such as this, bail would be expected, but Git hasn’t been afforded that luxury. The state plans to file an order that sees Git held in custody, as a means to keep him apart from his online crime empire. The order reveals that authorities believe that internet access will “enable him to continue carrying out the criminal enterprise,” while Git will “not hesitate to commit fraudulent offenses against innocent victims.”
Israel’s Bitcoin bounty!
Git’s arrest actually marks a landmark case in Israeli history, as never before have Bitcoin funds been seized by the police. Should an expected conviction come to pass, it will also mark the first time that the state officially holds cryptocurrency assets as proceeds of crime. The question is, what will be the future of the seized Bitcoin? We’ve already seen the US government move forward with cryptocurrency auctions to redistribute the funds, but will Israel follow a similar path? Only time will tell.