T Skevington and M Bacina
Sydney woman jailed for $400k Ripple theft
Judge Chris Craigie recently sentenced Australian woman Kathryn Nguyen to a maximum of two years and three months in jail for stealing over 100,000 Ripple (XRP) tokens in early 2018. After being arrested in October 2018, Ms Nguyen was one of the first Australians to be charged with the theft of digital assets in Australia.
The theft was relatively straightforward. Ms Nguyen and an accomplice hacked an elderly man’s email account in January 2018 and subsequently accessed his digital currency holdings and changed the man's two-factor authentication code to her mobile number. This allowed Ms Nguyen to transfer over 100,000XRP to her account, which was equivalent to approximately $400,000 (close to Ripple's all time high at the time).
Judge Craigie found that the stolen XRP was then transferred to an overseas digital currency exchange where it was traded for bitcoin and shuffled into different wallets in an attempt to launder the funds.
Despite Judge Craigie finding that Ms Nguyen's offending appeared “out of character” and that her “moral judgement was distorted”, Ms Nguryen was sentenced to a maximum of two years and three months in jail. She will be eligible for parole in October 2021.
Of course, since the time of the theft in January 2018, XRP's price has declined signifantly, such that the stolen XRP would now be worth less than $50,000 at the time of writing:
This sentencing follows what police described as the first instance of an individual being charged with operating a digital currency exchange in Australia without being registered with AUSTRAC in May 2020.