Business 17 November 2017Cecille de Jesus
Police nab Turkish kidnappers who target Bitcoin millionaires
The gang targeted a wealthy businessman after seeing posts of his luxuries.
Police raided members of a Turkish gang who followed a businessman to his car, detained him in a minibus and extorted him at gunpoint, forcing him to transfer 450 BTC—worth around $3.5 million as of writing, to the criminals.
Detectives were quick to take action after the victim filed a complaint, arresting the gang members who were already preparing for their next prey. According to the report, the gang targeted the man after seeing social media posts of his luxurious lifestyle.
It was not clear whether the businessman was given his BTCs back. With the irreversibility of blockchain transfers, this can prove to be problematic unless the criminals agree to give the balances back voluntarily.
As the cryptocurrency boom becomes ever so profitable, it has been attracting criminals along the way. Apart from cybercriminals, “bitcoin ransoms” are becoming a common demand from kidnappers. This is largely due to the fact that they can easily cover up their tracks as Bitcoin transactions are difficult to trace once the funds are divided and sent to different addresses.
In 2015, Hong Kong tycoon Wong Yuk-kwan was abducted and held for 38 days, with the kidnappers demanding that his family pay a ransom of HKD 70 million worth of BTC. The kidnappers threatened to Luckily, he was rescued. Other similar stories have been reported, including that of a model whose kidnapper attempted to sell her on the dark web, but released her under the condition that she pay $50,000 in bitcoins.
Apart from physically kidnapping people and demanding bitcoins for ransom, a digital version of the crime is also circulating where hackers seize control over a computer—freezing the system and threatening to either wipe out the data or release files to the public unless a ransom is paid, usually in bitcoins.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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