Authorities Secure $2 Billion in Bitcoin from Pirate Site Operators

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Pirate sites can generate significant revenue streams, but they're not billion-dollar operations. With the right timing and risk tolerance, it is possible to build substantial wealth, however, as a German case illustrates. With help from the FBI, German police managed to secure nearly 50,000 bitcoin (USD $2 billion) from the operators of the defunct movie streaming portal, Movie2k.

movie2kPirate sites were early adopters of cryptocurrency. The Pirate Bay, for example, started accepting bitcoin donations in 2013.

At the time, a single bitcoin was worth roughly $120, just a fraction of today’s price of $43,000. If The Pirate Bay had kept all donations received it would have millions in bitcoin today.

Movie2K was another pirate site that showed an early interest in bitcoin. In its heyday, the site was the dominant pirate streaming portal in German-speaking countries. It generated a healthy revenue stream, part of it held in bitcoin.

Movie2K Bitcoin Loot

The operator of the site never got to spend most of it though. The site surprisingly shut down in the spring of 2013. Many suspected that legal troubles had plagued the site, something confirmed years later when Dresden police announced several arrests.

It was rare to see new activity in an already-dated dossier, but the biggest surprise followed later when the police announced that $29.7m in bitcoin had been secured from the site’s operators.

This ‘seizure’ was one of the largest of its kind but the authorities estimated that the operators had more bitcoin stashed away, much more. Today, new information released by Dresden police shows that the assumption was correct.

50,000 Bitcoin Secured

Following an investigation carried out by the Dresden General Prosecutor’s Office, the Saxony State Criminal Police, and the local tax authority (INES), nearly 50,000 bitcoin were ‘provisionally’ secured earlier this month. The haul is worth more than $2 billion at today’s exchange rate.

Never before has this much bitcoin been secured by German authorities; it’s also one of the largest crypto hauls worldwide.

“The Bitcoins were seized after the accused voluntarily transferred them to official wallets provided by the [Federal Criminal Police Office]. This means that a final decision has not yet been made about the utilization of the Bitcoins,” police write.

Operators Bought Bitcoin

The German authorities received help from forensic experts at the FBI to secure these assets. According to publicly released information, the operators earned money through advertising and dodgy subscription scams.

Interestingly, the site operators didn’t necessarily get paid in bitcoin; they purchased the coins. They started converting their revenue to bitcoin in 2012 when it was worth just a few dollars per coin.

Looking back, this must be one of the best investments ever made, although the operators don’t get to enjoy it. As noted by Tarnkappe, a 40-year-old German and a 37-year-old Polish man remain under investigation for copyright infringement and money laundering.

It’s not clear whether the authorities believe that all Movie2K bitcoin have now been secured, or if they have even more in their sights.


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