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‘Big Bitcoin Heist’ Suspect Escapes Prison in Iceland, Flees to Sweden

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Gerelyn Terzo
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

Sindri Thor Stefansson, the suspected architect behind Iceland’s “Big Bitcoin Heist”, has escaped an Iceland prison and reportedly fled for Sweden. Stefansson is one of a group of suspects in a crippling heist in which 600 computers worth millions of dollars and used for mining bitcoin and altcoins were stolen.

The theft, which local media called the “Big Bitcoin Heist” as it was the worst such heist to rock Iceland in the Nordic island nation’s low-crime history, unfolded when the bitcoin price and mining profits were at their peak in December and January.

Police Chief Gunnar Schram told local news outlet Visir that Stefansson did not manage the escape alone, saying: “He had an accomplice. We are sure of that.” Meanwhile, the police commissioner previously stated the “Big Bitcoin Heist” represented “a grand theft on a scale unseen before.”

Low-Security Prison

Stefansson was placed in the low-security prison a little over a week ago though he has been in custody since February. At the current prison, inmates are not restricted by fences and have access to amenities like Wi-Fi and phone service.

A professor at the University of Iceland told the LA Times  that the “unusual” decision to keep a high-profile suspected criminal like Stefansson at a prison of this nature was rivaled only by “his organized escape.”

He fled through a window before taking the approximately 60-mile trek to Keflavík International Airport, where he used a stolen passport to board a passenger plane bound for Sweden and where security footage spotted him, according to reports.

The plane which he boarded, which was in flight by the time the prison guards realized he was gone, also reportedly carried Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, who was on her way to Stockholm where she met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While Stefansson has not yet been arrested, an international arrest warrant has been issued.

Cold Case

Meanwhile, the stolen computers, graphics cards, power sources, motherboards and memory discs that comprised the bitcoin mining operation have yet to be recovered. A number of suspects tied to the bitcoin mining heist were arrested, but it remains an open case.

Iceland is a refuge for bitcoin miners because of its low-priced and generous power supply that’s fueled by volcanoes in the island nation, not to mention the chilly Arctic temperatures that help to keep computers cool during the energy-intensive mining process.

Iceland boasts a population of 340,000 and dedicates more of its electricity supply to bitcoin mining than to households. It also has one of the lowest crime rates globally and is also where WikiLeaks was launched.

Featured image from Shutterstock.