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2 suspected Bitcoin counterfeiters are arrested in Germany

December 04, 2013|By Stuart Pfeifer
  • German police have arrested two people suspected of illegally generating nearly $1 million of virtual Bitcoins.
German police have arrested two people suspected of illegally generating… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)

German police have arrested two people suspected of illegally generating Bitcoins worth nearly $1 million.

Bitcoins are an unregulated, virtual currency that is stored in password-protected electronic "wallets" and used to make purchases on the Internet and at some brick-and-mortar businesses. The currency also is traded in online exchanges, where its value fluctuates widely.

Prosecutors in the German town of Kempten said they are investigating whether people used software to create digital Bitcoins worth 700,000 euros, about $950,000, Bloomberg News reported.

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The two suspects were arrested this week in raids that turned up evidence of other hacking activities, German police told Bloomberg. The suspects weren’t identified.

"Digital currencies will keep law enforcement authorities busy in the future," Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany's Federal Crime Office, said in a statement. "The relative anonymity of the currency makes money laundering easier and lowers the risk of being caught."

In a separate Bitcoin probe in China, three people were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of stealing money from investors through a fake online exchange, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local authorities.

Bitcoins gained some credibility after U.S. law enforcement and securities agencies said at a U.S. Senate hearing last month that the virtual currency could be a legitimate means of exchange.

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Twitter: @spfeifer22

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