A former student at Oxford University has confessed to stealing cryptocurrencies worth over £2m. Wybo Wiersma, aged 40, developed a website that pretended to generate the 81-character’string’ passwords needed to store the digital currency IOTA. That website, however, turned out to be fraudulent. With Wiesma already having generated the number sequence.
Million stolen in a few months
While residing in Oxford in early 2018, the computer expert emptied the Iota “wallets” of 99 people, taking cryptocurrency worth £2.1m. Wiersma has been in detention for over two years after his 2019 arrest by British and German officials during a raid on his residence in Bradmore Road, Park Town.
The case has been delayed due to issues locating experts with the appropriate IT skills to shed light on the crime for the jury. According to the charge filed by the Crown Prosecution Service, the theft occurred between January 17 and April 30, 2018.
A jury of 17 was selected on January 26 at Oxford Crown Court, with the jurors being advised that the trial may go until early March. Defense counsel Andrew Wheeler KC asked for a second reading of the accusation after consulting with his client. Following this, Wiersma pled guilty.
“The defendant has pleaded guilty to removing Iota from some 99 individuals in this way, to a total value then of just over £2m,” the defense counsel added.
Wiersma will be sentenced on January 27; thus he has been remanded to detention. He has already done time equal to at least four years in prison. In his thanks to the jury, Judge Michael Gledhill KC remarked that notwithstanding the theft’s technicality, the case “would have been relatively straightforward.”