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Australian Federal Police Officer Accused of Stealing 81.616 Bitcoin
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Australian Federal Police Officer Accused of Stealing 81.616 Bitcoin

According to local reports, an Australian Federal Police officer William Wheatley has appeared in court after being accused of stealing 81.616 Bitcoin seized during a drug-trafficking investigation in 2019.

Bitcoin Heist: Crypto Wallet Found Amid Drug-Related Raid

The committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court will occur this week after the now-replaced Australian Commission for Law Enforcement (ACLEI) first charged officer William Wheatley in December of 2022.

The suspended federal police officer is being accused of theft, dealing with property suspected of proceeds from criminal activities, and using the information to benefit himself dishonestly.

Initially, investigators believed drug trafficker accomplices had stolen the money, but it was later revealed that a police member was involved in the disappearance of the seized assets. 

In 2021, the case was reopened after new tracing tools pointed out foul play by a law enforcement officer.

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The wallet with the digital asset was found during a raid at a location that was believed to be linked to an illegal steroid dealer. 

The search was led by the Icarus Taskforce, a joint force of the Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

During the search, the Taskforce team uncovered evidence on an encrypted email service of drug orders and payments, discovering that the “steroid-type” substances were being paid through Bitcoin.

Upon further searching, the detectives found a Trezor hardware crypto wallet that was turned over to the Icarus detectives. 

The Icarus Task Force received a magistrate’s approval for a “rebuild” application three weeks after the raid, granting them access to the digital wallet and the 81.616 Bitcoin.

However, after accessing the wallet, the detectives discovered that the digital asset fortune had been moved from the wallet just four days after the device was seized.

“Circumstantial” Evidence Points To Suspended Officer

Wheatley has allegedly stolen 81.616 Bitcoin from the crypto wallet that was identified in the drug and steroid trafficking investigation, according to court documents. 

The seized amount was worth an estimated $450,000 at the time of the raid, and it’s now worth over $6 million.

As the case reopened in 2021, Cyber Crime Squad Detective Sergeant Deon Achtypis started to form the opinion that the “police member may have been involved in the movement of the cryptocurrency.”

The detective learned about the “IP addresses of relevance” being linked to the headquarters of the Australian Federal Police in Melbourne and couldn’t fathom a “valid business reason” for it.

See Also: Central Bank Of Russia Noted A Sharp Increase In Crypto Scams And Criminality Within The Country

Then, Wales-based crypto investigator Craig Gillespie got involved in the case to track and trace the stolen funds for the Australian Commission of Law Enforcement Integrity. 

The investigator confirmed that 28 transactions were made to various crypto platforms between January 29 and April 11, 2019.

The transactions involved the third wallet where the original seized digital assets were previously sent. 

Additionally, some were allegedly linked to withdrawals made to Wheatley’s personal bank account as recently as September 2022.

According to AFP officer Jesse Wyatt, Wheatley was the only federal police officer at the Hoppers Crossing search. 

Officer Wyatt told the court he contacted Wheatley to get information about the “metallic device,” as the suspended police officer was described as a “specialist” in the AFP’s Cyber Crime Division.

Luke Barker, Wheatley’s lawyer, affirmed to the court that the evidence against his client was circumstantial and that they would be disputing the alleged actions attributed to his client.

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Australian Federal Police Officer Accused of Stealing 81.616 Bitcoin

Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions. Crypto is not a legal tender and is subject to market risks. Readers are advised to seek expert advice and read offer document(s) along with related important literature on the subject carefully before making any kind of investment whatsoever. Crypto market predictions are speculative and any investment made shall be at the sole cost and risk of the readers.