Canadian Authorities Seek Help Identifying Bitcoin ATM Double-Spenders

Calgary police look to identify 4 suspects in $200k Canada-wide bitcoin fraud

Police call on residents to assist in finding four men suspected of stealing money from Bitcoin ATMs.

In October 2018, the Calgary police's cybercrime team's investigation began when officers were tipped off to a major fraud involving transactions that target a Canadian bitcoin company, according to the Toronto police.

Between Sept. 16 and 26, four men were captured on CCTV cameras making 112 withdrawals from Bitcoin kiosks in seven Canadian cities. The Calgary Police Service pleads with the public to supply any information relevant to the apprehension of these men. The suspects allegedly withdrew money, while subsequently canceling the transaction in a remote way before the BTM operator could process the withdrawal. Fifty-one of the transactions occurred in Calgary, with the others in Toronto (17), Montreal (27), Ottawa (1), Hamilton (1), Winnipeg (13) and Sherwood Park, Alta. (2). Those with information on the case can submit anonymous tips. While it was not created to facilitate theft, the tool lets "stuck" transactions to become released for the cost of an extra fee.

Calgary is home to a total number of 45 Bitcoin ATMs, but only 21 of them support Bitcoin sales. The objective of 0-conf is to create instantaneous transactions for instances when the 10-minute Bitcoin transaction throughput time would not be convenient.

The scam has been made possible through 0-confirmation transactions at the ATMs, enabling double spending while forcing merchants to wait for confirmation. That creates two transactions in succession, one paying a specific amount to a specific address, and a second one double-spending that transaction.

Four suspects with what police describe as "in-depth knowledge or interest in cryptocurrency, bitcoin and/or blockchain technology" are accused of defrauding the bitcoin company of almost $200,000 through "double spend attacks". Zero-conf is a system that allows transactions to go through with zero confirmations on the blockchain.

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