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PayPal fraudster’s £50,000 in Bitcoin seized on proceeds of crime confiscation

A 23-year-old PayPal fraudster has become one of the first convicted criminals in the UK to have Bitcoins confiscated under a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation order following his sentencing to 15-months in prison last week.

Gabriele Pearson was jailed after stealing PayPal credentials, laundering the proceeds via the online game Second Life, and then investing the proceeds in Bitcoin. However, officers of Surrey and Sussex’s police’s Joint Cyber Crime Unit were able to trace the trail of money and an examination of his PC and internet search history revealed his interest into Bitcoin.

The Bitcoins were seized under Section 47 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 will now be sought by the Surrey Police Economic Crime Unit.

Pearson was sentenced to just 15 months in prison at Guildford Crown Court on Wednesday last week following an investigation by Surrey and Sussex’s Joint Cyber Crime Unit.

The court was told that Pearson, who lives in Slough, Berkshire, used his position at an outsourcing company providing services to a firm based in Egham, Surrey to defraud his victims.

“Gabriele Pearson committed his crimes by repeatedly remote logging onto a series of computers owned by his IT company and their client, forming a complex chain of logins,” explained Detective Constable Paul Constable, who led the investigation.

Constable continued: “He obtained company PayPal account information and laundered the money via a virtual world called Second Life, which uses virtual currency Linden Dollars, where he then converted those into Bitcoin. At the time of arrest, he had obtained 9.9 BTC (Bitcoin) in total.

“He primed the account to accept larger sums of cash but his offending was noticed while he was waiting for confirmation from PayPal that he could increase the transfer limit to £50,000. He was able to request this as he had accessed further private documents that meant he could bypass PayPal’s identification requirements.”

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