In the first ever operation, French police have shut down an illegal Bitcoin exchange, and in the process seizing 328 “virtual currency units” worth around 200,00 Euros, or $272,800 at current exchange rates.
According to Reuters, two people in the Riveria coastal cities of Cannes and Nice were placed under investigation Friday, under the suspicion they were running a website that illegally sold and lent Bitcoin to its users.
In a raid that happened last week to one of the suspects residences, investigators seized a portfolio of Bitcoins, credit cards and computer hardware.
Police were aware of the website once they were tipped by a retired policemen once he alerted financial investigators after purchasing Bitcoins himself from the website.
Besides that, there are two firsts that come from this. This is the first time in Europe that judicial actions have resulted in the shutdown of an illegal exchange of virtual currency, and its the first time in France that Bitcoins have been seized as part of a judicial procedure.
The suspects were being investigated on possible charges of illegal banking, money laundering, and illegally operating a gambling website.
As Bitcoin becomes more and more mainstream, stories just like this are bound to pop up more frequently. But as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, we are spreading the word about Bitcoin and that’s what matters.