Jeremy Roebuck covers federal courts and law enforcement. The crime described by federal authorities last year — a bitcoin heist of more than $40 million that left even experts flummoxed – would have been one of the most audacious and technically sophisticated cyber crimes in the short history of the supposedly fraud-proof crypto currency.

But by the time its purported mastermind, Ted Price, 32, of Hatfield, was sentenced to less than three months of incarceration Tuesday – time he already has served — all those outsize claims had vanished into the digital ether. As it turns out, there was no stolen bitcoin.

Prosecutors blamed Price for exaggerating his technical prowess. And the amount he allegedly stole – a sum investigators once estimated to be in the millions – was pegged in court Tuesday as barely more than $150, tied to an entirely separate crime.

The story of what happened between then and now highlights the challenges and potential pitfalls authorities face as they confront complex crimes involving rapidly developing technologies as public concern over high-tech hacking schemes continues to grow. Prosecutors, Price, and his lawyer all declined to comment after his sentencing hearing in federal court in Philadelphia.

To be fair, it was Price himself who first led Homeland Security Investigations agents to believe he might have been the crackerjack hacker whom they originally portrayed in court filings. Under investigation for burglary last year, he purportedly boasted during an hours-long confession that he had developed a malware program that would surreptitiously divert bitcoin into his own account by disrupting the transactions of other users. Read more from…

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