Hertfordshire Police benefit from first-ever bitcoin auction

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Police in Hertfordshire will enjoy a £240,000 windfall, thanks to the first-ever auction of bitcoin.

This is the first time illegal assets in the form of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency will have been sold as part of the eastern region special operations unit’s (ERSOU) asset recovery function.

The assets, which also included ripple and ethereum, fetched over £240,000 at Wilsons Auctions after being sold to the highest bidders last week.

ERSOU seized the assets from a criminal who illegally supplied online personal data and hacking services in exchange for thousands of pounds worth of cryptocurrency.

All of the bidders were approved ethical users of cryptocurrency; to ensure that the assets were not able to make their way back into crime, ERSOU’s procured asset management and realisation contractor vetted them.

Wilsons Auctions are fully indemnified to hold and store the assets before the auction on behalf of law enforcement.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Peters, from the ERSOU cyber crime unit, said: “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.

“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.”

ERSOU tackles serious organised crime and the terrorism threat across the eastern region.

It carries out investigations into serious and organised crime on behalf of police forces in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Wilsons Auctions’ asset recovery director, Aidan Larkin, said: “We are delighted to have marked another first at Wilsons Auctions by carrying out the first auction of bitcoin under the instruction of a UK police force, which gained interest worldwide, resulting in bidders from as far as Brazil, Australia, Dubai, USA, Canada and Singapore and achieving over 7,500 bids.

“Having managed a world-first public auction of bitcoin earlier this year, we are delighted to continue to roll out this new innovative service by successfully managing this auction on behalf of ERSOU.

“Despite one of the most significant market dips in recent months during the auctions, the results from these auctions indicate that we are exceeding market value by breaking the cryptocurrency down to smaller Lots, we are making it more affordable for bidders, generating a better return.

“Being able to offer this secure solution to our partners worldwide and remove the risks that can be associated with trading with unregulated virtual currency exchanges has been a welcome addition to our award winning auction service as well as giving new and experienced investors the opportunity to buy cryptocurrencies from an insured and trusted auction house, with a proven track record in this field.”