Governments are acquiring an increasing share of the overall bitcoin supply after a spate of asset seizures from cyber criminals.
In recent days, Chinese authorities have announced the confiscation of over $3bn in bitcoin from the operators of last year’s notorious PlusToken scam.
PlusToken, a ponzi scheme, attracted up to $6bn from its 3 million-plus victims, most of whom live in China, Korea and Japan.
PlusToken used educational materials and viral marketing techniques to lure its victims, as well as pretending to be a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange.
One of the frontmen for the scammers, called ‘Leo’, even pretended to have conducted talks on cryptocurrency technology with Prince Charles.
Last February, Leo posted images on social media of himself meeting the heir to the UK throne at an event in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, to support this claim.
Earlier this summer Chinese police announced they had arrested dozens of people implicated in running the PlusToken scam.
According to Coindesk, the Jiangsu Yancheng Intermediate People’s Court confirmed the confiscation by the Chinese state of 194,775 bitcoin, 833,083 ether, 487 million XRP, 79,581 bitcoin cash, 1.4 million litecoin, 27.6 million EOS, 74,167 dash, 6 billion dogecoin and 213,724 tether.
Victims of the PlusToken scam won’t get their money back
At current prices, the bitcoin haul alone is worth $3.35bn, with the other cryptocurrencies taking the total to over $4bn.
The victims of the PlusToken scam won’t get their money back, however. According to Coindesk, the seized digital currencies will be forfeited to China’s national treasury.
China’s massive cryptocurrency haul follows a similar seizure earlier this month by US federal authorities.
On November 5, the US government revealed it had acquired around 70,000 bitcoins (now worth around $1.2bn) from an unidentified individual who had hacked the Silk Road dark net website in 2013.
Bulgaria is reportedly the second-biggest owner of bitcoin
If China and the US are now substantial owners of the overall bitcoin supply, which is capped at 21 million coins, there is one national government that has an even bigger confirmed stake in the cryptocurrency.
After the cryptocurrency’s pseudonymous founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, Bulgaria is reportedly the second-biggest owner of bitcoin.
In 2017 the country’s government seized 213,519 bitcoins (currently worth $3.7bn) from a team of scammers running a complex customs fraud.
This bitcoin stash is now worth nearly 6 percent of the Balkan state’s gross domestic product (GDP).
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