While there has been plenty to fear when it comes to hackers stealing virtual currencies from online investor accounts, reports of thieves carrying out real-life robberies has the biggest crypto enthusiasts on high alert.
According to The New York Times, there have been a “startling number” of armed robberies of cryptocurrency holders across the globe.
In many cases, the criminals are able to force the victim to hand over their hardware wallets or keys to online accounts, and then simply steal large amounts of crypto. And because the local authorities don’t have the technology to track transactions, the perpetrators are harder (or even impossible) to track down.
“For this, the advantage of bitcoin is that it’s hard to verify,” said Chalong Police Station investigator Chanut Hongsitthichaikul, who worked on a case involving a Russian man ambushed for roughly $100,000 in Bitcoin while in Thailand. “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.”
Other crypto-related crimes have included victims being extorted for ransom in exchange for the ending of hoax phone calls to the police (known as swatting), muggings at in-person sales of cryptocurrency, and the hijacking of cell phones to gain access to holding accounts.
And late last year, a cryptocurrency executive was kidnapped by an armed gang near his office in Kiev, and was freed on Thursday after paying the ransom demand of more than $1 million in bitcoins.
In fact, many of the major crypto investors are now refusing to travel to Russia, Turkey and other countries where attacks are easier to carry out because of organized crime. It’s important to note, though, that there have been armed attacks at a Canadian Bitcoin exchange in Ottawa, and against an Ether investor in New York City and a prominent virtual currency trader living near Oxford, England.
As a result, some investors are arming themselves. In fact, at the recent Satoshi Roundtable in Mexico, organizers “brought in a security force and instituted significant privacy measures for guests to protect them from criminals while they were in attendance.”