High Court Grants Judgment for Victim of Bitcoin Fraud

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Those who fall victim to anonymous fraudsters may think there is nothing that can be done once their money has disappeared, but the courts have powers at their disposal which may assist. In a recent case involving bitcoin fraud, the High Court granted a man’s application for summary judgment and continued freezing injunctions against persons unknown.

The man had transferred about 20.34 bitcoin to what turned out to be a bogus trading platform. He had also transferred a total of 330,000 euros in order to purchase more bitcoin, but the funds had disappeared. He applied to the High Court for summary judgment against the persons who had obtained access to the bitcoin and euros and carried out the transfers, and the persons who owned or controlled the accounts into which they had been transferred, if different. He also sought continuation of an interim freezing injunction.

The Court noted that, when the freezing injunction was granted, provision had been made for service on the defendants by a number of methods. The Court therefore proceeded on the basis that the defendants had decided not to contest the claim and concluded that they had no real prospect of defending it.

The Court noted the recent similar case of Boonyaem v Persons Unknown and others, in which the Court had declined to grant judgment or continue a freezing injunction against a defendant who could not be sufficiently identified. In this case, however, provision for alternative service had been made: the defendants were deemed to have been served and the Court had jurisdiction over them. While the Court noted that enforcement might be difficult unless the defendants were identified, that was not a reason not to grant judgment.