An Australian woman has been jailed for her part in the theft of XRP cryptocurrency worth nearly $400,000.
Kathryn Nguyen was arrested in October 2018 for pulling off a crypto-heist with an associate. The 25-year-old was one of the first people in Australia to be charged with the theft of cryptocurrency.
The theft of 100,000 XRP tokens took place in January 2018, when the value of the currency was at an all-time high of $3.84 per token. Currently, the tokens are worth approximately $0.30 each.
Along with her accomplice, Nguyen stole the tokens from the account of a 56-year-old man with whom she shared the same last name. She then swapped the two-factor authentication to her own cell phone.
Nguyen reportedly used a Chinese cryptocurrency exchange to swap the tokens for Bitcoin (BTC). In what may have been an attempt to launder the stolen funds, the Bitcoin was distributed across multiple wallets.
Police raided Nguyen’s home in the Sydney suburb of Epping in 2019, seizing phones, computers, and money. In August last year, the former Bitcoin trader turned handbag and shoe repairer pleaded guilty to fraud.
Today, Nguyen was sentenced to a maximum of two years and three months behind bars. She will be eligible for parole in October 2021.
Presiding judge Chris Craigie said it was a “difficult and troubling decision” to hand Nguyen a jail sentence. According to News Corp, character references given regarding Nguyen portrayed her as having a “generous and hardworking personality.”
“A common thread was the offender’s willingness to help others,” Craigie said. “This takes on a different meaning in her willingly participating and assisting in a criminal enterprise.”
Craigie shared the opinion that the defendant’s “moral judgement was distorted” when she committed the crime.
The investigation into Nguyen was launched after the victim told police that he had been locked out of his cryptocurrency trading account. Police then spent nearly a year building the case against Nguyen.
Commander of NSW Cybercrime Squad, Detective Superintendent Matthew Craft, said cybercrimes in Australia often went unreported.
“The problem we have nationally—not just in New South Wales—is that the reporting rate for cyber-related crimes is very low,” Craft said.