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Police seize cryptocurrency from alleged movie pirate (nzherald.co.nz)
54 points by chris_overseas 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments

How can people be so good at making money, but yet so clueless about OPSEC?

> But after the police knocked on the door on the weatherboard home in June, McIvor handed them the key codes to unlock more than $6m worth of various cryptocurrencies.

Ummm, why would he do that? Was he perhaps hoping that they'd go away if he just gave them the money?

> Detective Senior Sergeant Keith Kay, the head of the Asset Recovery Unit in the Waikato, said his team became involved after a tip from the Inland [sic] Revenue Service in the United States.

> The IRS had received "Suspicious Activity Reports" from PayPal, the online payment service, which tax officials traced to McIvor in New Zealand.

> ...

> The money was allegedly deposited into his bank accounts from international wire transfers, PayPal, and another online payment service called Stripe.

I can't imagine how anyone could think that would work out well.

Most criminals aren't criminal geniuses.

I guess. Or maybe we just don't read about the ones who are.

Most criminal geniuses work a few floors above everyone else.

NZ seems to have a high number of pirates per capita (N=2). Could be the excellent fibre internet.

Also, this is an example of why a criminal should spend ill-gotten funds. What was the point of all the effort to profit from piracy? The money is all gone now and he’s going to jail. He has actually incriminated himself more by having all the money sitting there.

There is a history of it being very difficult access to TV and movies legitimately with only a few channels and shows often never coming or coming years later. This drove a lot of demand for piracy in NZ over the years.

Yup. It's always been this way. Long before fiber was around. "Not available in your country"... We'll see about that.

I think it's because historically NZ had terrible access to media. Often you wouldn't even be able to buy movies or TV series even if you wanted to, and TV shows would air 6 months to a year behind the USA, now it's usually within the same week. I remember sometimes even torrenting DVD rips for movies before they were even in the cinema.

No, that's not the point at all.

He did nothing to hide his identity from the payment processors. Money went straight to his meatspace bank account. So he was screwed from the start.

> a criminal should spend ill-gotten funds

Or bury that treasure

Obfuscated cold storage for God’s sake. It’s crypto, who knows what that could be worth by the time you’re out of prison.

> But after the police knocked on the door on the weatherboard home in June, McIvor handed them the key codes to unlock more than $6m worth of various cryptocurrencies.

Why in God's name would he give them the wallet keys? I'd be like, what wallets?

Because the police probably have chat logs or other evidence that he received bitcoin.

By giving the keys you show good will and cooperation, and will get the lighter end of the sentence.

Maybe... I'd rather do the time, and when I get out a millionaire then do the time and when I get out flat broke.

You won't be able to legitimately cash it out, you'll be imprisoned again for money laundering.

So you'll need to take your winnings to a third world country and generally watch your back.

I'm guessing he had no plan to "legitimately" cash it out ever, given the way it was procured?

Still, he could have tumbled it, traded for Monero, etc. when he got out.

What are you basing any of that on? There are a lot of places to go and a lot of ways to use cryptocurrency. Why would someone be 'watching their back'?

Yea he just gave them a ton of proof that he did do it....

Well I sure hope, for his sake, that wasn’t all of it...

Wouldn’t you have to be pretty stupid to have that much crypto at a single point of failure?

Just like why you don’t keep all your cash in a mattress. Keep some private keys in a safe in the cellar at grandma’s ranch, or encode them in a picture of yourself hanging on her wall.

Is steganography a thing with real-world works of art? I know that with digital photos, it's simply a matter of interspersing the information in its bits, but I'm not sure how that would translate with an actual physical copy.

That’s only a problem when you need to encode a pre-determined piece of data.

You could use an existing piece of art as your entropy to generate your own private key.

Would it be random enough? Who knows, but even 0x0000000000000 could be a random number.

How would that work? Take a picture of the picture and hash it? Wouldn't that just make the picture you took the source of entropy not the physical one?

You might have something in the image that you could interpret as 1s and 0s. Say, heights of trees in a line. If the next one is bigger, 1, if it's smaller, 0, etc.

If you can reliably produce the same hash from the painting over and over again[1], you can use the painting as the source, and throw away the picture.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_video_fingerprinting

What a bummer we can’t do this with the computer encoding of a long but memorable phrase. Ah, were that the tech existed!

There is no method for consumers to validate copyright status of digital files. It would be interesting if someone started selling drm-free high quality downloads for copyrighted videos while (falsely) advertising as being legal and fully licensed for sharing copies with friends.

I'd pay 0.05 per movie for plausible deniability (in addition to quality and reliability): would be much harder for movie studios to bring a case against you if every file came with a license for which there is no consumer mechanism to validate - ideally spliced in as a preroll. Something like "This copy of $moviename is licensed for unlimited sharing and copying by $studioname". Would be incredibly cheap to automate with ffmpeg, and would plausibly reduce prosecution risk for everyone downstream.

This reminded me of the excellent "What color are your bits" article about the absurdity of copyright in the digital space.


Wow, great article thanks for sharing.

And wait for the follow up; Cop arrested for stealing bitcoin. Again.

Not your keys, not your coins. You could say the system is working exactly as designed.

Shhh. Don't tell the cops hehehe.

What was the name of the site the guy allegedly ran? I couldn't find it in the article.

Why didn’t he get paid in crypto? I mean he obv knows about it.

Because that would have increased friction for customers.

Not that getting more income, and then busted, was such a win.

Doing high-volume currency to crypto securely is very hard.

Inland revenue service? Isn't it internal revenue service?

Different countries have different names for their government departments.

It’s actually the IRD, Inland Revenue Department in NZ so the journalist will be used to using Inland.

No they specifically mentioned this in the context of the us

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