The Sad South African Story Of Kidnapping For Bitcoin


One of the saddest stories in Bitcoin’s scam-tainted underbelly happened on December 3 in South Africa, when a trader of the world’s favorite cryptocurrency was kidnapped, and tortured by criminals for the bitcoins he held.

While thus far the news on the number of crypto crimes has been unnerving and disillusioning, the physical assault and torture are unexplainable and refuted by the larger cryptocurrency community in South Africa and worldwide. However lucrative the value of this decentralized currency, the level of brutality involved in this incident drops a veil of dismay and pall of unhappiness about the event for all stakeholders.

Andrew’s Ordeal

Known only as Andrew, the victim was sought by an investor over Facebook and was brutally assaulted, drugged and forced to share the private keys to the bitcoin he held in his online wallet. The amount which was stolen from his bank was $7,234 and $217in cash. The robbers did not end with this nicety, they also sought out to monetize hardware which Andrew held such as his two laptops and two iPhones.

The criminals include two groups of 3 men and 2 women who moved him between them from the first point of meeting him to the second location where they pressurized him to reveal the keys for robbing the coins.

Rise in Crypto-Crime

The outbreak of this crime story further dents the already beleaguered virtual currency industry which is struggling under pressure from the drop in market capitalization and price of bitcoin.

Even as the industry attempts to shake itself out of the market correction, the number of heists by small-time criminals, many of the said criminals being women, for a handful of coins reiterates the risks that are associated with this largely unregulated market.

However, the slew of crimes has attracted the attention of the lawmakers in many countries with many of them banning the use of these digital currencies and some of them issuing stringent rules under which such business and transactions can be conducted.

The crimes are not confined to one geographic region but to most of the countries where bitcoins and alternate coins enjoyed active use and adoption such as South Korea, the United States, and even the United Kingdom. While the crimes reported in South Korea and neighboring countries are not brutal and are typically online crimes, the attacks reported in the United Kingdom and the United States appear to be more violent with identifiable instances of use of arms to fleece owners of bitcoin at gunpoint.