29 May 2017 :: Press releases :: News & Events

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More than 200,000 bitcoins in value of 500 million USD seized by the Bulgarian authorities

On May 19, 2017, with SELEC‘ support, the Bulgarian authorities successfully finalized the joint investigation PRATKA/VIRUS in the field of cybercrime, committed by compromising the countries Customs computerized systems in order to avoid and save taxes. The organized criminal group consisted in Bulgarian nationals having connections in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hellenic Republic, Romania and Republic of Serbia. The modus operandi used was recruiting corrupted Customs officers in all involved countries with the purpose to infiltrate a virus in the Customs’ computerized systems. Once the virus installed, from distance, the offenders were able to finalize various transports, as in the Customs’ system appeared that the cargo was already checked and passed.

The Bulgarian authorities have searched more than 100 addresses, suspects and vehicles. A large quantity of money was seized, as well as equipment, devices for communication, computers, tablets, bank documents, etc. 23 suspects were arrested, 5 of them acting as Bulgarian Customs officers. As result of this criminal activity the damages recorded by the Customs Agency, only for year 2015, is around 10 million Leva. As well, up to now were found in the virtual space bitcoin wallets of the main suspects with a total value of 213,519 bitcoins. As a reference, the value of one bitcoin is rating to 2354 USD. The offenders choose the bitcoin way of investing/saving the money, because it is rather difficult to be tracked and followed.

The judicial procedures against the offenders are currently ongoing, eight of them being already permanently detained.