TalkTalk hacker's crypto assets auctioned off by police

The auction of seized cryptocurrencies is a UK-first for law enforcement

A collection of cryptocurrency tokens in their physical manifestations

Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of bitcoin seized from TalkTalk hacker Elliott Gunton have been auctioned off in the first-ever case for UK police.

Bitcoin, Ether and XRP amounting to more than 240,000 were sold to bidders in an auction last week, set up through the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit's (ERSOU) asset recovery programme.

It's the first-ever auction of cryptocurrency as the result of police instruction in UK history, with officials saying the proceeds will go back into fighting crime.

Wilson's Auctions hosted the bidding for the cryptocurrency last week; only individuals approved by the police could bid for the digital assets to ensure the coins wouldn't be reinvested into crime.

"This historic auction should help us instil the public's confidence in our open, transparent system to recoup the proceeds of crime in a secure and innovative way," said detective chief inspector Martin Peters, ERSOU Cyber Crime Unit.

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"Asset recovery in a digital world has evolved, so it's really important that, working alongside commercial partners, we have a clear process for the storage and sale of cryptocurrency.

"This goes to show there is no place to hide criminal assets - we are constantly developing our techniques and capabilities to ensure that proceeds of crime are either given back to the rightful owner or, as in this case, are reinvested in crime."

Gunton was sentenced in August 2019 to 20 months in prison for hacking offences, money laundering and breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention order issued to him in 2016 for a separate offence.

The teenage hacker was also ordered to pay back 407,359 and was given a three-and-a-half-year community order, which restricts his use of IT.

Gunton, of Old Catton, Norfolk, hacked TalkTalk when he was 16 years-old and sold the data he stole from the telecoms company on the dark web, specifically for fraudulent purposes.

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He charged dark web criminals $3,000 (2,469) in bitcoin for the data he held so they could use it for activities such as intercepting phone calls and texts to commit fraud.

Gunton's parents were later charged with helping their son move some of the cryptocurrency he earned form dark web dealings out of a seized police-bitcoin wallet.

Carlie and Jason Gunton pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property, with his father admitting to the additional charge of perverting the course of justice. The pair are due to be sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Wednesday.

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