Crypto hackers jailed over £5.7m theft

  • Disciplinary
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

Two crypto thieves stole almost £6m from Bitcoin wallets around the world with just 55 victims being identified so far

Jake Lee, 38, from Bath and James Heppel, 42, from Wiltshire pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud have been jailed for four years and 15 months respectively.

The crime came to light in 2018 after a southwest Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) investigation found the pair had been hacking into people’s Bitcoin wallets by ‘spoofing the domain’ of the cryptocurrency exchange.

So far 55 victims across 26 countries have been located and the total scammer is estimated to have defrauded up to £5.7m. Despite efforts by the police only £835,000 has been recovered, with £551,000 in cash handed in by Lee voluntarily. They also recovered a £60,000 Banksy picture and three cars.

DS Matt Brain from SWROCU’s regional cyber crime unit said: ‘Our investigation started back in 2018 after colleagues at Avon and Somerset Police arrested Lee on suspicion of money laundering.

‘As well as £24,000 cash, officers from the force seized digital devices and three laminated Bitcoin wallet recovery seeds. At the same time, our unit had started an investigation into a cryptocurrency scam reported by a Wiltshire victim who had £11,000 worth of Bitcoin removed from his Blockchain wallet.

‘We took on the investigation into Lee and when we analysed his devices, we established he was a central figure involved in a sophisticated domain spoofing fraud and worked to identify numerous victims.

‘Mapping out Lee and Heppel’s offending and links to other suspects and cryptocurrency exchanges all over the world was complex work, but the fact they both pleaded guilty to all counts, negating the need for a six-week trial, shows the strength of evidence we secured against them.’

A further confiscation order has been made against Lee, which is intended to compensate some of the victims.

Pamela Jain, a specialist prosecutor with the Serious Economic Organised Crime International Directorate of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘This was a complex and time-consuming prosecution which involved enquiries with numerous victims and prosecuting authorities all over the world.

‘A substantial sum of money and assets have been seized. In addition to his prison sentence, the court also ordered Jake Lee to pay almost £1m by way of a confiscation order which will enable the victims to be compensated. Confiscation proceedings against James Heppel are ongoing.

‘Compensation orders force criminals to hand over available money and assets or face having time added onto their prison sentence.’

Visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Do I have to let an employee bring a companion to a disciplinary investigation meeting?


Related articles

  • harassment


    Government rejects plea to ban NDAs in all harassment cases

    Treasury Committee publishes response from the Government and regulators to report, Sexism in the City, on sexual harassment and bullying in the financial services sector

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Discrimination
  • a woman in PPE working


    42% of female workers wear ‘ill-fitting’ PPE

    A survey of over 1,500 female workers by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) has published its findings after a six-month consultation in 2023-24.

    Peninsula Team Peninsula Team
    • Equality & Diversity
  • deal finalised


    Worcester Warriors rugby club rescued in last minute deal

    Following a torrid 18 months and almost certain collapse, Worcester Warriors Rugby Club has been rescued in a last minute deal

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Dispute Resolution
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.