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Bitcoin Theft Going Offline: In-Person Attacks Becoming More Common

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 19:03
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Darryn Pollock
Bitcoin owners may have to literally watch their backs as criminals are targeting them in the non-virtual world.
Bitcoin Theft Going Offline: In-Person Attacks Becoming More Common
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There is an understanding with Bitcoin owners that hackers and thieves lurk online where their digital currencies are stored, and there is a level of danger and potential risk that comes from this asset.

However, there are more and more spates of in-person attacks occurring where Bitcoin owners are being confronted by people and forced to transfer their Bitcoins to the thieves’ anonymous wallets.

There has been such a focus on building protection for cryptocurrency owners online, that some thieves are simply circumventing it by going old-school and attacking people face on, forcing them to part ways with their digital currencies.

Hostage situations

There has not been as much coverage of in-person Bitcoin thefts as there have about hacks and other methods of taking Bitcoin off people illegally, but there has been a few instance in the recent past.

In a beach resort in Phuket, Thailand, in January, thieves held captive a Russian man in his apartment until he logged onto his computer and transferred about $100,000 worth of Bitcoin to an online wallet they controlled.

Even more high profile people have been faced with in-person attacks aimed at stealing Bitcoin.

Chief Executive of a UK-based Bitcoin exchange called EXMO, Pavel Lerner, on leaving his offices in Kiev, was kidnapped just After Christmas last year and held ransom for a fee of $1 mln Bitcoin.

A month prior to that, in Turkey, a businessman was forced to hand over the passwords for his virtual wallets which contained in excess of $3 mln. He was stopped by an armed gang in his car, in Istanbul.

Rare occurrences

These thefts are still rare and mostly one-off instances that are simply aimed at a valuable commodity. Instead of jewels and money, thieves are a little more sophisticated in targeting those who are known to be virtual currency-rich.

These one-off hits pale in comparison with the multiple wallets that are usually attacked when entire exchanges are targeted by hackers, leaving thousands of people out of pocket.

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About the author

Darryn Pollock is an award winning  journalist from Durban, South Africa. He picked up Vodacom’s Regional Sports Journalist Award in 2017 while expanding his Blockchain and cryptocurrency reach.  He is a contributor to Forbes, Cointelegraph, Binary District, and of course, U.Today. Darryn’s belief is that Blockchain technology will be the driving force of the next technological wave and it is the obligation of journalists and writers to tell its emerging story with integrity and pride.