Physical attacks on cryptocurrency owners on the rise

July 13, 2018
Chris Wheal

extortion

Old-fashioned physical assaults on cryptocurrency owners have increased: Shutterstock

An increase in exchange hacks and exit scams in the crypto markets has been accompanied over the past year by a rise in physical attacks and extortion against owners of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The incidents have been recorded by Jameson Lopp, infrastructure engineer at cryptocurrency wallet Casa, creator of statoshi.info and founder of bitcoinsig.com, who has published a detailed list of physical attacks targeting cryptocurrency holders on GitHub.

On Twitter, Lopp writes: “23 physical attacks targeted against crypto owners catalogued thus far. 10 of them occurred in the past six months. Seems to be strong evidence that the rate of physical attacks is accelerating.

Kidnaps and extortion

kidnapping

The first recorded crypto-related kidnapping occurred in 2015: Shutterstock

Several of the crypto-related physical robberies recorded are attacks targeting crypto infrastructure, such as the theft of bitcoin ATMs or mining hardware, but the list also suggests a rise in attacks targeting cryptocurrency owners in which victims are kidnapped or extorted for crypto assets.

The first crypto-related kidnapping occurred in 2015, when New Yorker Dwayne Richards was abducted and robbed of $1,100 in crypto. More recent reports from Russia show an increase in violent attacks, including the mutilation and robbery of a cryptocurrency holder in Moscow last February.

Other incidents since the start of this year include the theft of HK $1.4 million from a Hong Kong-based trader, who was lured to a bogus meeting last January and a bitcoin buyer who shot a robber in self-defence during an attempted theft in Miami on April 11.

The most recent incident recorded was an attempted robbery in Massachusetts on July 6, when LocalBitcoins trader Austin Nedved suffered an armed invasion of his home.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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