Criminals Move from Hacking to Kidnapping; Disturbing Tales of Latest Acts

February 21, 2018

Before you make it publicly known that you’re ‘crypto rich,’ consider you’re letting criminals know about your gains, many of whom are resorting to kidnappings to get their hands on others’ cryptos.

Have you ever bragged, or thought to tell, about how much money you’ve gained from your Bitcoin, or other crypto investments?

If you have, stop it. Criminals are increasingly eyeing those who they deem to be ‘crypto rich’ and have resorted to kidnapping them to get at their spoils.

Let’s discuss.

Pavel Lerner

The crypto space first got wind in December of how criminals were kidnapping people for their crypto spoils. That’s when we learned that Pavel Lerner, a lead analyst for the cryptocurrency exchange EXMO, had been kidnapped.

He was reportedly jumped by a group of abductors who released him only after they were paid by his company a ransom in $1,000,000 worth of Bitcoin.

Brazen abductions on the rise

Since Lerner’s kidnapping, we’re learning of abductors cutting to the chase and seeking out, specifically, crypto holders. They’re not just seeking out those affiliated with cryptos, like what was the case for Lerner.

The New York Times listed, over the weekend, a few of the crimes that happened within the last few months. The abductions aren’t limited to any particular country, and the brazenness of the perpetrators is increasing.

For example, in Phuket, Thailand, a Russian man was held hostage in his apartment until he transferred roughly $100,000 worth of Bitcoin to an online wallet his abductors controlled.

Turkey’s cybercrimes police reportedly detained a gang of thieves who robbed 450 bitcoins worth $2.83 million from an Istanbul. Local media reported that this robber marked the first time police carried out an operation to detain criminals involved in stealing cryptos.

Then there is a case in New York City that shows how you really need to keep your crypto gains to yourself – even maybe from those you thought you could trust. According to the New York Times, a man was held captive by a friend until he transferred over $1.8 million worth of Ethereum.

Protect yourself

So anxious have some crypto holders become that they are no longer visiting countries where they think people are willing to kidnap them for their crypto riches. These countries include Russia and Turkey, according to the New York Times. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for what you can do to avoid being a victim. While it may be tempting to announce to the world that you made a killing from Bitcoin, these crimes highlight how that is a dangerous idea.

In addition to possibly being harmed by someone coming after you to steal your crypto, there is little chance you’ll ever see your stolen cryptos again.

That’s clearly due to the way the crypto space works – anonymously.

Jameson Lopp, a software engineer for Bitgo, told the New York Times that crypto holders should consider creating multisignature wallets to secure their digital tokens.

He added that people should expect these crimes to increase.

“We’re in the very early days of this becoming a problem. The attackers are still trying to figure out what the risk-reward really is.”

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