Alleged 'Big Bitcoin Heist' mastermind arrested in Amsterdam

Amsterdam police have arrested an Icelandic fugitive accused of orchestrating a large-scale computer heist to mine bitcoins.

Sindri Thor Stefansson was previously arrested in Iceland on suspicion of masterminding the theft of six hundred computers.

The computers were stolen in a series of four raids on data centres across the southern part of the country in February, which local media dubbed “the Big Bitcoin Heist”. The hardware, still missing at the time of writing, are worth $2 million.

In an interview with The Associated Press, local police commissioner Olafur Kjartansson described the raid as “a grand theft on a scale unseen before” in Iceland.

“Mining” is the method by which new, unique and single-use units of the cryptocurrency are brought into online circulation.

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Stefansson was one of 11 people arrested in connection with the thefts after HS Orka, an energy company, said it was seeing an “exponential” rise in the amount of energy being used in data centers to mine and verify crypto-currency transactions.

Stefansson, who was not considered a dangerous inmate, was transferred to a a minimum-security facility called Sogn Prison. He escaped ten days after his arrival by climbing out of a window. According to local media, Stefansson took a taxi to Keflavik International Airport, where he boarded a Sweden-bound plane under an assumed name.

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Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir was on the same flight, on a diplomatic mission to Sweden where she met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She has not commented on Stefansson’s escape.

Stefansson was arrested in Amsterdam on an international warrant, five days after fleeing Iceland (Iceland Monitor).

According to his lawyer, he will return to Iceland to face trial within the next few days.

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