$3.5 Million: Turkish Kidnapping Gang Targeting Bitcoin Holders Busted

Journalist:
November 18, 2017

According to Turkish newspaper Habertürk, police recently managed to capture a gang of five extortionists in Merter, a suburb west of Istanbul, one of the country’s biggest cities, making it the first time police carried out an operation in a bitcoin-related crime in Turkey. The extortionists, according to reports, managed to steal 450 bitcoins, worth about $3.54 million, from a businessman earlier this week.

The gang followed the businessman to his car posing as police, before kidnapping him and extorting him out of his coins and online banking account passwords, while holding him at gunpoint and threatening him inside a van. The ordeal reportedly lasted eight hours before the victim was finally let go.

Following the incident, the businessman contacted police and filed a criminal complaint. Police started investigating the case and, as the gang was presumably sloppy at covering its tracks, managed to quickly identify its members.

After identifying those responsible for the crime, authorities launched a surveillance operation, in which they managed to know the quintet’s whereabouts and film its members as they went about their daily lives. Moreover, Turkish cybercrime officials followed the stolen funds’ trail on the blockchain, and it’s unclear whether or not these were recovered.

Police operations were successful, as the gang was then caught red-handed as it was getting ready to kidnap a second victim to extort. An investigation also found the suspects had stolen “bitcoin mining devices” from other people in the Esenler district.

Reports further suggest one of the gang’s leaders was convicted of extortion and sentenced 30 years in prison, while another suspect jailed for extortion seemingly managed to flee, according to the Daily Sabah.

Victim Targeted for Showing off His Wealth

Apparently, the gang decided to target the wealthy businessman after seeing images in which he showed off an extravagant lifestyle, including meals in luxurious restaurants, on social media.

As every cryptocurrency enthusiast should by now know, showing off your wealth is never a good idea, as it’s clearly a security risk. Criminals are always looking for a way to make money, whether that means stealing someone’s cash, or someone’s bitcoin.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Francisco Memoria @FranciscoMemor

Francisco is a cryptocurrency writer who's in love with technology and focuses on helping people see the value digital currencies have. Twitter: https://twitter.com/FranciscoMemor