20 Feb Bitcoin robberies, personal cryptocrime growing
A successful UK cryptocurrency couple robbed at gunpoint. Canadian cryptocurrency exchange held up in daylight hours. Ukrainian bitcoin exchange businessman held hostage for $1 million in bitcoin. A New York resident is robbed by a “friend” for $1.8 million in Ether.
Now, a young Russian man in Phuket, Thailand is the latest victim of virtual coin robbers who forced him to sign over $100,000 in bitcoin at the beach resort.
It’s not just virtual crime that’s rising, but personal crimes against cryptocurrency owners are growing as well according to The New York Times.
Anonymity a challenge
The biggest appeal of cryptocurrency to many people, and to criminals is its anonymity.
The problem is that social media allows ways for cryptocurrency traders or individuals to be identified and targeted.
A cryptocurrency business needs a public profile for success and a business office address to reassure clients. That presents a growing security challenge.
Social media chatter is risky
Friendly chatter on Twitter, Facebook and other social media lets criminals identify individuals more likely to own valuable cryptocurrency.
Jonathan Levin, the founder of Internet security firm Chainalysis, says cryptocurrency crime is growing quickly.
“This is now becoming more pervasive and touching more law enforcement divisions that deal with organized crime and violent crime on a local level.”
Local police rarely have the resources and expertise to track and capture crypto criminals.
In Phuket, Thai police were relying on help from the Russian victim but held out little hope in recovering the stolen bitcoin. The victim’s laptop computer was traced to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the case has gone cold.
Crypto celebrities need to lie low
Increased security for newly wealthy individuals and successful bitcoin businesses is an obvious starting point. As is a lower social media profile and more care for privacy, which in some ways is against the “outlaw”, anti-establishment persona cultivated by many in the cryptocurrency business.
Without more security caution by individuals, we can only expect more in person robberies and cryptocurrency crime to be committed. It’s a sad comment on society.
You can read The New York Times report here.