We have become accustomed to hearing of cryptocurrency being stolen by hackers. It seems fitting that a virtual currency would be preyed upon by virtual criminals.
But in a first for the UK, on Monday last week four men armed with guns broke into the home of a cryptocurrency trader and forced him at gunpoint to transfer Bitcoin to them, according to The Guardian.
The incident took place in the sleepy village of Moulsford, Oxfordshire, at around 9:30 am. The village holds many high-value properties, and police are calling this a “targeted incident”.
According to the Daily Mail, the man’s wife was tied up and the couple’s baby put outside in a pram. After the crime was reported, a police helicopter was scrambled, but the suspects remain at large.
An eyewitness said she saw four young men with hoods up jump over a fence, apparently making their escape from the scene of the crime. She expressed surprise that the crime took place at the hour that it did, because they were bound to be seen parents making the school run.
Guy Shone, CEO of Explain The Market, told the Daily Mail: “These are criminals who have likely caught on to the current popularity of Bitcoin. But depending on how much they have, these coins are like being in possession of a rare painting. Trying to exchange large amounts for normal money without alerting suspicion will be very difficult.”
Worldwide, this is far from the first such incident.
We reported back in December about a gang in New Delhi that kidnapped a businessman in a ruse involving Bitcoin, in what The Hindustan Times referred to as “probably” the gang’s third victim.
Also in December, Coindesk reported on the arrest of a New York man who was charged with grand larceny, kidnapping, robbery and criminal use of a firearm in relation to the theft of $1.8 million worth of Ethereum. In that incident, the victim, who the perpetrator knew held large amounts of cryptocurrency, was ambushed by a gun-wielding individual when getting into a car. His house keys were taken and his digital wallet stolen from the property.