Japanese police: Crypto currency thefts lead to JPY 59.2m in losses in H1 2017

Maria Nikolova

Crypto currency thefts, resulting in losses of JPY 59.2 million, were reported in 13 prefectures.

Cybercrime reports reached record high in the first six months of 2017, according to data from Japan’s National Police Agency.

The numbers, quoted by Nikkei, show 69,977 reports of cybercrimes were received by the police in the January-June 2017 period, up 4.9% from the equivalent period in 2016. This is the highest number of reports received since the publication of these statistics started.

More than 20 incidents involving the theft of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies were reported to the police, leading to losses of JPY 59.2 million (USD 543,000). There were 13 cases involving Bitcoin hacks, 11 cases involving Ripple and 2 cases involving Ethereum. There was also a report about several digital currencies having been attacked at the same time. Crypto currency thefts were reported in 13 prefectures.

Reports of online fraud accounted for more than half of all cybercrimes reported to the National Police Agency in the first half of 2017. Reports of unauthorized computer access and computer virus attacks rose by more than 50% year on year to 6,848 cases.

The fresh numbers are announced by the Japanese police as authorities from various jurisdictions across the globe are warning about the risks associated with virtual currencies and ICOs. Warnings have been issued in China, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada, Singapore, the Netherlands and Russia, where the Central Bank of Russia reiterated its warning from 2014, which states that issue and use of crypto currencies may be treated as a violation of the national anti-money laundering laws.

Japan’s laws have been favourable towards virtual currency businesses. Many companies, including GMO Internet Inc. (TYO:9449), have recently entered the Bitcoin exchange segment.

However, the so-called “fork” from early August which saw Bitcoin split into Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin, as well as the recent volatility in the prices of crypto currencies, have prompted Japanese regulators to adopt more cautionary attitude. The Financial Services Agency (FSA) is reported to be taking extra time to review applications of businesses willing to enter the virtual currency segment.

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