Theodore Price, a resident of Montgomery County, has been arrested for stealing $40-50 million worth of bitcoins by replacing wallet addresses through malware, in what could be one of the largest cryptocurrency heists of all time, according to a criminal complaint filed today in federal court.
Price told investigators from the US Department of Homeland Security that he was planning to flee to London by using a fake passport in the name of “Avengers” actor Jeremy Renner.
Police began investigating Price after the theft of two laptops and a gold necklace in Bucks County, home of his girlfriend’s parents. Price’s girlfriend discovered that he had stolen the laptops from her parents, and reported the theft to police. During the theft investigation, the officials found stolen personal information and credit card numbers featuring the names of his girlfriend’s family in his possession.
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After being arrested, it didn’t take long for Price to admit he was running a phishing scheme. He told agents he wrote software to steal up to $50 million in bitcoins.
More specifically, the software he developed was able to simulate the code used to create Bitcoin wallets, then it replaces other people’s wallets with Price’s wallets during transactions. From there, he distributed the malware on specific internet forums and was injected into email addresses.
If Price’s theft is proven, it would rank among the top cryptocurrency heists on record. Still at the top of that pile is the Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox which lost $480 million three years ago.
For this crime, Price could serve up to 15 years in prison.
The federal court judge noted: “The estimated guidelines range for the charged offenses is 121-151 months imprisonment. Accordingly, the defendant has a substantial incentive to flee. The defendant also has admitted to having a fake passport, and to having contacted a company to rent a private plane to flee to Europe.”