Police in South Africa have arrested two suspects in connection to several Bitcoin kidnapping cases of teenagers.
Few things keep parents up at night more than worrying about the safety of their child. There’s a reason why parents buy car safety seats, insist on bicycle helmets, and tell their children not to get involved with the “wrong” crowd. However, crime can suddenly impact a family’s life, and little is as dramatic as kidnapping. Last year, there were two kidnapping attempts (one successful) in the province of Mpumalanga, South Africa, in which the kidnappers demanded a ransom in bitcoins. Fortunately, the two suspects associated with those crimes have now been apprehended.
The first Bitcoin kidnapping took place in May 2018 in Witbank. A 13-year-old boy was walking home from a shop with a friend. A silver Toyota Corolla pulled up, and the boy was forced inside. The parents reported the abduction to the police and then found a ransom demand left in their yard.
The ransom for this Bitcoin kidnapping was R1.5 million, which equates to just over $108,000. Police were able to obtain video footage of the crime due to a CCTV camera that was located nearby. Luckily, the boy was released a few days later by the kidnappers, although the police do not say if the ransom was paid or not.
The second Bitcoin kidnapping took place in August 2018 and was not successful (thank goodness). The same two men, now driving a VW Polo, attempted to abduct a 13-year-old girl in Aerorand, Middelburg. The criminals were able to drag her into their car, but she cried out for help. A group of people happened to be working nearby and helped her escape.
The criminals drove off and abandoned the vehicle. However, they left their belongings inside, which included information that they were behind the previous kidnapping and were going to ask for a Bitcoin ransom for the girl as well.
Bitcoin Kidnapping Running Rampant in South Africa
Police were able to track down and apprehend the two men (aged 30 and 31). The first was arrested in November while the second was taken into custody on December 30th, 2018. They were granted bail of R1,000 (which seems to be $72 USD).
Of the case, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said:
These cases were the first of their kind in Mpumalanga and a task team comprising of different units within the South African Police Service was immediately established by police management to investigate this matter.
The dedicated formations left no stone unturned in their investigation, knitting all clues and eventually their efforts yielded positive results as the suspects were arrested thereafter at different locations.
It seems South Africa has a Bitcoin kidnapping epidemic. Last December, a 9-year-old girl, Linathi Titshala, was kidnapped as she was walking from her grandmother’s house to her home, which was only a few houses away. The kidnappers have demanded a ransom of 5 bitcoins, but the family does not have the means to pay it. Sadly, she is still missing.
Another kidnapping has taken place in Norway, but this time the cryptocurrency of choice is Monero. Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, the wife of millionaire Tom Hagen, was kidnapped on October 31st. Her family received a ransom demand of 9 million euros ($10.3 million) payable in Monero. She is also still missing.
What do you think about all these Bitcoin kidnapping cases? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Pxhere and Pixabay.