By working together with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), German law enforcement agencies have seized nearly $30 million worth of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash from two men allegedly running a large pirate streaming website called Movie2K.
The pirate streaming website began operating in 2008 and ran until 2013. In that timeframe, Movie2K allegedly distributed nearly 900,000 copies of movies and TV shows. Its popularity grew rapidly, and before it closed in 2013, it was the nineteenth most visited website in Germany and the 240th in the entire world. It had more visits than Twitter, Amazon, Apple, and PayPal at the time.
Despite its substantial popularity, the website shut down without warning, and suspicion emerged of legal pressure. However, no further information came to light for years until the Attorney General’s Office in Dresden revealed in November 2019 that the two men allegedly operating the site had been arrested.
An announcement published earlier this week from the Dresden General Prosecutor’s office asserted that the two men had remained in custody since then. Now, the two suspects have started cooperating with the authorities. They admitted running the illegally streaming website and acknowledging raising millions of dollars, which they later turned into various cryptocurrencies – including Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.
Authorities Seize BTC and BCH
Movie2K generated revenue primarily in two ways – regular advertising and through the so-called “subscription traps.” By utilizing those traps, the website tricked individuals into signing up for a specific service. Then, the victims found it nearly impossible to escape from a supposed contract they were not even aware of.
After raising substantial, yet undisclosed amounts of fiat currencies, the perpetrators started accumulating bitcoins in mid-2012. One of them was a programmer who also had a real estate agency. According to the statement from the Dresden Attorney Office, he once owned over 22,000 BTC. At today’s rates, this massive amount would equal $257 million.
In the years until mid-2016, he used the growing price of Bitcoin to purchase various properties. Ultimately, though, local law enforcement agencies working together with the FBI managed to seize only a fraction of that amount – about $29.7 million worth of BTC and BCH.
Nevertheless, according to another report, the authorities have also seized all properties purchased through the real estate company.