Nine police officers were arrested last week in the Indian state of Gujurat for kidnapping a man and extorting 200 bitcoins from him.
The crime took place in February, according to a report in Quartz India.
The victim, a businessman, said that he was taken to a secret location and forced to transfer the bitcoins to another wallet. 200 bitcoins are equal to approximately $1.6 million at today’s price.
The list of instances of cryptocurrency-related violent crime is unfortunately getting longer.
In one example, a gang of five in Istanbul disguised themselves as policemen and flagged a businessman’s car. They then took his banking passwords at gunpoint. 450 bitcoins were taken, at that point worth about $2.83 million.
According to a local news report, police tracked the gang members down – one fled jail, and another proposed to his girlfriend in an “extravagant ceremony at a luxurious restaurant”. Prior to that crime, the gang had stolen mining devices from three different people.
All valuable assets are magnets for thieves, and Bitcoin is no different. It even has an advantage for the perpetrator because as a stolen good it is difficult to track – although not impossible.
We published a summary of Bitcoin-related violence in February. One victim was a young Russian on holiday in Thailand who was forced to transfer a large amount of Bitcoin to a group of men who broke into his apartment.
According to the New York Times, local police actually asked the victim for advice as to how to catch the criminals – Chanut Hongsitthichaikul, who investigated the case, said: “We asked the victim how to track it since they know Bitcoin better than us. We asked them how to check the receiver. They said there is no way. It is hard to do.”
At a conference called the Satoshi Roundtable held in Cancun in February, some time was dedicated to this subject.
The conference itself was protected by a hired security force. One of the proposals was a ‘duress wallet’ with a limited stock of currency that can be handed to criminals in case of a physical attack.
One attendee at the conference was Jameson Lopp, an infrastructure engineer and hodler who had a SWAT team falsely called to his house last year. Writing about the conference in Medium, he relayed that much of the discussion revolved around holding funds in cold wallets as an effective way of preventing hacks.
The trend of physical crypto asset robberies will accelerate if attackers have a decent success rate. Securing your assets not only helps you, it helps us all by deterring physical attackers from even trying.
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) February 8, 2018
In terms of physical violence, common sense rules: don’t advertise how rich you are. And if you must, make sure that you have turned off geo-tracking on your electronic devices, secure your home.