Bulgaria Acquired $3.6 Billion in Bitcoin After Organized Crime Bust

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Bulgaria acquired 213,519 Bitcoin after an organized crime ring was busted for placing a virus into computers at the Customs office that allowed members of the ring to avoid import taxes on their cargo.  The group converted its gains​ ​to​ Bitcoin, which now is valued at more than $15,000 per coin, for a total of $3.6 billion.  If Bulgaria sells its stash of the ​seized ​cryptocurrency, it will be able to pay off almost 20% of  its national debt.  [We do not expect that to happen, however, because government leaders seldom are concerned about debt. They likely will spend the money on vote-buying schemes or simply will steal it for themselves.​ It is not clear from this article how the government was able to confiscate the Bitcoin inasmuch as cryptocurrencies are supposed to be secure against theft or government seizure. If anyone can tell us how this was accomplished, we will share it with our readers.] -GEG

Bulgaria’s GDP is about $52.4 billion (2016), so it is quite a shock that the Bulgarian Government is sitting on an approximate $3 billion worth of Bitcoins seized in an anti-corruption operation back in May.

Bulgarian law enforcement jointly worked with the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELC), a regional organization comprised of 12 member states, to bust a sophisticated organized-crime network, arresting twenty-three Bulgarian nationals and seizing a total of 213,519 bitcoins.


SELC described the organized-crime scheme as the hacking of Bulgarian Custom’s computers and allowing those associated with the group to skip fees for importing goods into the country. To make it work, the group recruited corrupt Customs officers to upload a virus into government machines, so that hackers could establish remote access.

 The organized criminal group consisted in Bulgarian nationals having connections in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hellenic Republic, Romania and Republic of Serbia. The modus operandi used was recruiting corrupted Customs officers in all involved countries with the purpose to infiltrate a virus in the Customs’ computerized systems. Once the virus installed, from distance, the offenders were able to finalize various transports, as in the Customs’ system appeared that the cargo was already checked and passed.

Further, SELC provided details of how the operation was conducted, involving a large-scale search of “more than 100 addresses, suspects, and vehicles.” Out of the 23 suspects arrested, 5 of them were Bulgarian Customs officers. Police seized “equipment, devices for communication, computers, tablets, and bank documents.”

Bulgarian authorities have searched more than 100 addresses, suspects and vehicles. A large quantity of money was seized, as well as equipment, devices for communication, computers, tablets, bank documents, etc. 23 suspects were arrested, 5 of them acting as Bulgarian Customs officers. As result of this criminal activity the damages recorded by the Customs Agency, only for year 2015, is around 10 million Leva.

Here is where things get interesting… Police also seized 213,519 bitcoins, at the time, worth $500 million. As of writing this article, the amount seized, is now worth approximately 3,676,583,661, according to CoinDesk.

As well, up to now were found in the virtual space bitcoin wallets of the main suspects with a total value of 213,519 bitcoins. As a reference, the value of one bitcoin is rating to 2354 USD. The offenders choose the bitcoin way of investing/saving the money, because it is rather difficult to be tracked and followed.

Read full article here…

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5 years ago

Ed, you ask to be told how the government can get something so secret and private as BTC? Simple, they are Judge and Jury but more so they are power… suffice to put a pair of private and “secret” parts of the subject into a steel vise, turn the screw and pretty fast his crypto Secret Key will appear in neon letters above his head… At that level the theoretical justice morphs into a “just us” ! Crpto is Crypto as long as real justice is obeyed.. We all know that governments are above this… They will call it “we… Read more »

5 years ago

Since the blockchain is a public ledger and, therefore transparent, Bulgaria had easy access to the public keys attached to the 213,519 Bitcoins. To get control, Bulgaria reverse-engineered these public keys to recreate the private keys paired to them. Each pair of keys were originally created by the intended receiver of the Bitcoins from a set of prime numbers. The receiver published for all to see on the internet the public key containing the product of this set of primes but not the primes themselves. The sender transferred Bitcoin ownership to this public key via the internet for control by… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  Jerry

Bitcoin’s public and private keys are based on elliptic curve cryptography, which has almost nothing to do with prime numbers. If it were possible to “reverse-engineer” public keys to obtain the private keys paired to them, Bitcoin would collapse entirely. The idea that Bulgaria has done this is laughable.

It’s more likely that the private keys were simply obtained from the equipment that was seized.