German police confiscated a digital wallet estimated to hold $60 million in bitcoins earned through fraudulent internet behaviour. The wallet’s original owner was convicted of installing bitcoin mining software on people’s computers without their knowledge and was sentenced to more than two years in prison. However, the wallet is encrypted, and the fraudster has refused to reveal the password that protects the 1,700 bitcoins.
“We asked him but he didn’t say,” the prosecutor from the Bavarian town of Kempten said on Friday. “Perhaps he doesn’t know.”
During the two years that the scammer was imprisoned, the value of bitcoin skyrocketed.
According to the German news agency BR, if the authorities acquire access, the bitcoins will be sold and the proceeds would be deposited in the public coffers. That’s because the bitcoins didn’t appear to have been taken from anyone in particular. Instead, they were freshly mined using hacked computing power.
As per BR, officials were able to acquire access to 86 bitcoins that were not password protected, resulting in a €500,000 ($600,000) profit. This most likely occurred when bitcoins were not as valued as they are now.
While the government is unable to access the remaining 1,700 bitcoins, officials claim that the original owner is also unable to do so.