Cryptocurrency is often tied to ransom and cybertheft, but very rarely do cryptocurrencies warrant physical attacks on people. While they do happen, they are relatively rare when compared to the illicit behavior that occurs through digital means.
Physical Attacks Pertaining to Crypto Can Happen
In recent news, one of those physical attacks have taken place. A criminal gang in India sought to kidnap three cryptocurrency traders and hold them against their will in exchange for a bitcoin ransom. All were tortured while the gang demanded a whopping 80 units of BTC.
The three men were held against their will for a total of 15 days. Seven members of the gang were arrested following a raid on their holding quarters after 13 hours of police negotiations which came to a standstill. The victims are now being identified as Luftan Shaikh, age 19; Mohammad Shazad, age 36, and Malang Shah, age 44. They were rescued from a high-rise building after having been beaten for several days.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Vikas Sharma explained in a statement:
The gang kidnapped Shaikh and Shazad, two bitcoin traders, and demanded 80 bitcoins… Shah was kidnapped two days later. The gang demanded [money] from his family members.
Most of the time, cryptocurrency attacks occur through digital means, either via hackings or cyberattacks in which thieves steal funds through crypto exchanges. This recently occurred with a Japanese trading platform known as Bit Point. In all, approximately $32 million worth of crypto funds disappeared and made their way into the hackers’ hands.
In addition, theft can also occur through SIM-swapping, in which hackers bribe employees of a users’ cell phone provider to garner their private data and account information. If the user happens to own crypto, the hacker can sneak into their account unnoticed and coordinate their attack from there.
Cryptocurrency has also been at the center of several ransomware cases or malware, the most common being crypto-jacking software that allows a hacker to take control of a users’ computer or digital device without their permission. They can mine cryptocurrencies for a profit from the person’s computer, who all the while earns nothing from the process other than high energy bills.
Following the raid, the kidnappers took flight and engaged authorities in a 20-minute chase that saw them arrested in a suburban area of Jaipur. The culprits had lured the traders to their hideout by alleging sales of low-priced bitcoin units.
Afraid and Alone
India-based media platform NDTV is quoted as explaining:
[The gang] wanted to extort money from the trio. They held them hostage in the flat and had threatened to kill them if their demands were not met. Not even their family members were aware of the abduction. The victims had lost all hope because they had no access to anyone.