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$1.5 Million USDT Ransom Demand Leaves Chinese Entrepreneurs Missing and Dead

Last Updated 22 hours ago
Lorena Nessi
Last Updated 22 hours ago
By Lorena Nessi
Verified by Insha Zia
Key Takeaways
  • Reports indicate a series of kidnappings targeting foreign executives.
  • Similarities in the cases suggest a potential pattern.
  • Kidnappers demand ransoms in USDT stablecoin.

The Philippines recently became the backdrop for a chilling series of kidnappings in which the kidnappers have demanded crypto as ransom from foreign nationals. 

A Short Trip Turns into a Nightmare

On June 20, Xia Kefu, a 39-year-old Chinese marketing director at Suzhou Runmed Medical Technology, and Sun Jing, a 45-year-old Chinese-American entrepreneur, traveled to the Philippines after being invited to participate in a business venture. However, their journey quickly turned into a nightmare.

According to local Chinese sources , on June 21, the families of both victims received a call from kidnappers demanding that they raise 15 million yuan, approximately $2 million, convert it into $USDT, and transfer it to a specified account.

As their despair grew, the families decided to negotiate with the crypto kidnappers and traveled to the Philippines, feeling increasingly hopeless with each passing hour.

Despite a ransom payment of 6 million pesos, approximately $109,000, the grim climax for the families came on June 27th when the police confirmed that both men were found dead near Manila.

Cryptocurrency and Kidnapping: A Disturbing Trend Emerges

The tragic fate of Kefu and Jing was not an isolated incident. A local report  revealed another similar case where two foreign executives from the medical device industry were kidnapped. 

Like the previous victims, Li Jia, a Chinese executive, and his Austrian-Chinese friend Zhao Dong were also invited to the Philippines for business purposes. Tragically, they met the same fate as Kefu and Jing.

They were abducted, and the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 10 million pesos (around $182,000), of which 6 million pesos (approximately $109,000) were paid in USDT. Despite the payment of the ransom in USDT, the victims were also killed.

 The Cryptocurrency Complication and Investigative Responses 

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines activated a swift response, collaborating with the  Philippine Antikidnapping group  and the police.

On  July 2, 2024, during the regular press conference , Mao Ning, the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, expressed the urgency to enhance protective measures for Chinese nationals working closely with the embassy in Manila. 

In China, USDT stablecoin, other cryptocurrencies, and activities related to digital currencies, such as mining, trading, and coin offerings, are prohibited. The ban is part of the country’s efforts to curb financial risks and control its financial system. This adds to the complexity of tracing crypto transactions and applying law enforcement. A cryptocurrency that is untraceable by authorities presents complex challenges for law enforcement in tracking ransom payments. This situation is exacerbated by China’s strict prohibition of cryptocurrencies, complicating efforts to trace these transactions. 


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