Crypto-related crime has struck again; this time in Jaipur, India, but thankfully the long arm of the law caught up with the perpetrators before they could do much damage. Indian police have reportedly uncovered the den of kidnappers who had held two Bitcoin traders captive for two weeks.
Per the report, the two Bitcoin traders, Luftan Shaikh, and Mohammad Shazad had been kidnapped alongside and another individual named Malang Shah.
According to the Indian Deputy Commissioner of Police Vikas Sharma, the gang of seven had been demanding 80 bitcoins (about 8 crores and $848,720 at current market price) from the family of the traders. “The gang kidnapped Shaikh and Shazad, two bitcoin traders, and demanded 80 bitcoins worth ₹8 crore. Shah was kidnapped two days later. The gang demanded ₹10 lakh from his family members,” said Sharma.
Sharma revealed that the gang’s nefarious activities were first suspected when a man in the neighborhood was found loitering with a pistol at around 2:30 am on Sunday. After apprehension and questioning, the criminal the police to the rest of his team, who had been torturing the captured trio on the ninth floor of an 11-story building. The gang is suspected to be connected to some other crimes including various kidnappings, robbery, extortion, and loot cases.
Your Crypto Or Your Life?
While it is impressive that the Indian police caught up with this set of criminals and rescued the captives, this case is one victory in a sea of vanquished crypto-related ransom cases. Other reported kidnaps that requested for the ransom to be paid in cryptocurrency ended in less than happy notes.
For as long as cryptocurrency has been deemed valuable, kidnappers and other criminals have taken a sick affinity to the coin. This does not come as a surprise, mainly because cryptocurrency transactions offer a degree of anonymity that sufficiently covers the criminal’s tracks, but thankfully, not all the time.
Even crypto’s anonymity cannot cover up for criminals with slow brains- as is often the case. In September 2018, Costa Rican news outlets reported the kidnap of American businessman William Sean Creighton, and the subsequent demand for a $5 million ransom paid in cryptocurrency.
Creighton’s family could only pay $1 million, and wait for the return of their relative. Sadly, Creighton was never released- and is still declared missing till now, and is presumed dead.
The kidnappers were apprehended, as their IP address was flagged after they tried to convert the crypto funds to fiat. Anonymity could only see them so far– but sadly Creighton could not be rescued.
Last year also, Norwegian Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen was abducted outside her home in Oslo. Elisabeth was wife to one of Norway’s richest men, Tom Hagen, so the kidnappers must have deemed it fit to ask for the $10 million ransom that they did, to be paid in cryptocurrency. Hagen paid the ransom, but his wife was never released. In fact, subsequent reports are speculating that she may never be released, and was possibly murdered.
Will Crypto Ever Be Free of The Crime Tag?
It is hard to say. Anonymity is one of the most distinguishing attributes of cryptocurrency, and if that is lost, crypto might as well cease to exist. However, the fact that crypto is crime-plagued does not make it any more of a dark tool than fiat.
Fiat is also used for heinous crimes all over the world, and it does not even need anonymity to do it. While this is not an explanation that washes cryptocurrency of the mud that criminals have rolled it in, it does suffice to keep the pot from calling the kettle black.