A boy who set up a fake website as part of a “sophisticated cyber fraud” has had more than £2m of cryptocurrency seized by police.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, used it to dupe users of a digital gift voucher site into entering their personal details.
He stole £6,500 worth of vouchers and used the proceeds to buy Bitcoins, Lincoln Crown Court heard.
The teenager was handed a 12-month rehabilitation order.
Sam Skinner, prosecuting, said the boy had set up the fake website from his bedroom in April 2020.
It was almost identical to the official site of Love2Shop, which sells gift vouchers, the court heard.
He then paid to advertise on Google, which resulted in the bogus site appearing above the genuine site when people searched for it.
“People were duped into clicking on his website thinking they were accessing the official site,” the prosecutor said.
The court was told the boy took the site down after a week just as Love2Shop began investigating him following a complaint from a customer.
However, the teenager, from south Lincolnshire, used the proceeds to buy Bitcoins and other cryptocurrency, which subsequently soared in value, the court was told.
Following his arrest in August 2020, police found 48 Bitcoins and a smaller number of other coins.
“At the time they were worth £200,000. They are now worth a little over £2 million,” Mr Skinner said.
The subsequent police investigation also found over 12,000 credit card numbers stored on the boy’s computer and details of 197 PayPal accounts, he told the court.
The teenager, who is now studying A-levels, admitted charges of money laundering between 9 and 16 April 2020 and fraud totalling £6,539 by false representation.
Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight ruled that he benefited from his crimes by £2,141,720 and ordered that amount to be confiscated from his assets.
“If he was an adult he would be going inside,” she said.
She told the defendant: “You have a long-standing interest in computers. Unfortunately, you used your skills to commit a sophisticated fraud.”
A Bitcoin is basically a computer file which is stored in a digital wallet app on a smartphone or computer.
It could be described as an online version of cash, which you can use to buy products and services, but it is not controlled by the government or banks.