People are robbed all the time for all kinds of things. Their expensive watches, cell phones, wallets, you name it. It’s only now and then that people are robbed of their bitcoins, and usually this happens through hacking or some other digital means.
Not so in the case of a young man who, for whatever reason, decided to sell $1,100 worth (roughly four and change at current rates) via Craigslist. According to CNBC, an unidentified man showed up to the designated meeting place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and soon found himself at the wrong end of two pistols.
It was a classic Craigslist crime. The same methodology is used to heist all kinds of goods, not just digital currency. The seller is comforted by the presence of a single buyer, led to another location where he is ambushed by the supposed buyer and an accomplice. In this case, they forced the seller to make the transfer and then also stole his phone.
The man has yet to come forward on any online forum, and CCN urges him to get in touch with us if he’d like to tell his story in more detail. The question remains of whether or not the criminals have been able to fully wash the coins yet. Stealing bitcoins is a bit like robbing someone in front of a crowd. The chances of no one figuring out where the money are significantly lower, due to the public nature of the blockchain. If the seller has a backup of his wallet anywhere, he’ll be able to track the coins at least to a certain point, if not all the way to their final conversion to profit.
There is even a chance that law enforcement could subpoena the details of an account if the coins wound up in a regulated exchange for sale. Which seems unlikely. The most likely destination for these coins will be a Dark Net Market such as Agora, where they can be converted into goods both legal and illegal and then turned into profit from there. Perhaps that was the fundamental motivation, as most Bitcoiners are not hardened criminals with the knack (or tools) to rob people at gunpoint.
Using Craigslist was, of course, the seller’s first mistake. There are many ways to get cash for your bitcoins, and CCN urges our readers not to use something like Craigslist for such. The site LocalBitcoins.com is dedicated to the sale of bitcoins, and in a place like New York, there is a fairly active scene of people willing to buy and sell bitcoins for paper currency. There are, of course, the occasional thefts there, as well. But at the very least you have a fighting chance to make a wise decision, as there is a rating system on the site, and you obviously don’t have to choose anyone who hasn’t done trades before.
But then, of course, if you don’t need the money right away, it’s probably wisest to go with a traditional exchange. Never leave your coins on the exchange when you’re done trading, as that has time and again proven to be a good way of losing them. But when you sell your coins this way, you have a far lower probability of coming up empty handed than you do meeting strangers on the street and expecting them to hand over cash.
Bitcoin is digital gold, and until we all treat it with the same care and security as we treat physical gold, cases like this will continue to happen. On second thought, they’ll continue to happen anyway, but there are more ways than ever to keep them from happening to you.
Last modified (UTC): June 8, 2015 09:29