$2.1 Billion in Bitcoin Seized in German Piracy Sting

German authorities, bolstered by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, have recovered 50,000 BTC, worth around $2.1 billion, in a sweep of piracy websites, the lead agency said on Tuesday.

Described as the largest seizure of its kind in Germany, the Bitcoin was confiscated from German and Polish nationals who were accused of running piracy websites and money laundering.

“This is the most extensive security of Bitcoins by law enforcement authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany to date,” Saxony police said in a press release, as translated by Google Translate. “The Bitcoins were seized after the accused voluntarily transferred them to official wallets provided by the BKA.”

The BKA is the Federal Criminal Police Office, which joined with Other German agencies in the operation: the Dresden General Prosecutor’s Office, Leipzig tax investigators, and an unnamed Munich-based forensic IT company. They also said they collaborated with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Officials explained that the seized Bitcoin is being held “provisionally” while the investigation continues, and that the final decision on what will happen to these Bitcoins will be made later.

Saxony police said the Bitcoin was allegedly purchased with illicit gains from the sale of copyrighted material on the websites, adding that it has not yet been determined how the alleged criminals intended to use it.

The German law enforcement action is the latest in high-value seizures of cryptocurrency by government investigators.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice charged three people with a $1.9 billion crypto scam centered around HyperFund. This purported DeFi platform claimed to have a cryptocurrency mining operation backing its funds.

A new report from blockchain security firm PeckShield said over $2.6 billion in cryptocurrency was stolen in 2023 alone, with $675 million recovered so far. Still, the firm noted, the amount of cryptocurrency stolen has fallen from $4 billion in 2022.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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