Exchange owner killed
The co-founder of a Bitcoin exchange called BitMarket, was found murdered in Poland, after the exchange closed, citing a lack of liquidity. Allegedly, over $23 million in customer funds is unaccounted for.
Tobiasz Niemiro was found with a bullet in his head in the woods a few hours from Warsaw. Although Polish, the exchange was registered in the Seychelles.
Growing number of Bitcoin murders
Niemiro is among a growing number of digital currency exchange founders who were murdered in the past two years.
- Almost a year ago, a Canadian Bitcoin exchange owner named Giuseppe Bugge, who police say was tied to organized crime, was gunned down in a hail of 140 bullets from machine guns in Mexico in territory controlled by the powerful drug cartel, the CJNG.
- 9 months ago, Heikki Bjørklund Paltto, a Bitcoin trader, was murdered in his home in Norway. He was 24 years old.
- Over a year ago, Pavel Nyashin, was murdered in Russia. He was 23 years old.
The first Bitcoin exchange murder was in 2014 – then, the CEO of an early exchange, Autumn Radtke, was murdered in Singapore, although some believe her death was a suicide.
Bitcoin traders kidnapped & tortured
Others who work at exchanges or who trade on a self-employment basis, have been exposed to extreme violence as well. For example:
- Three weeks ago in India, three Bitcoin traders were kidnapped, taken to a high rise in India and tortured for two weeks. The kidnappers sought 80 Bitcoin for their release.
- Over a year ago, an ICO developer was kidnapped, beaten, mutilated and forced to transfer over $1M in Bitcoin to robbers in Moscow.
Bitcoin kidnap ransoms & murders
There is also a growing trend of using Bitcoin for ransom payments in kidnappings. For example:
- The 12th richest man in Norway, Tom Hagen, alleged that on October 31, 2018, his wife was kidnapped by people demanding he pay $10M in Bitcoin for her release. He never paid because he said the police instructed him not to. The police believe she was killed.
- The wife of a Brazilian exchange owner was also kidnapped in exchange for a Bitcoin ransom, which also wasn’t paid by her husband.
- William Sean Creighton was kidnapped in Costa Rica last year. His family paid a $950,000 Bitcoin ransom for his release but despite paying, Creighton was never released and is believed to have been killed. His kidnappers wanted $5 million.
- Earlier this year, a businessman in India was kidnapped and forced to pay $49 million in cash and Bitcoin to secure his release.
- In Mexico, a lawyer was kidnapped for a Bitcoin ransom and while the family paid the ransom, the police located the kidnappers and got the Bitcoin ransom back.
The Bitcoin world is much more dangerous than banking – bank executives are rarely kidnapped, tortured or killed but despite this, unlike banks, exchanges still tend to lack security procedures for human assets and adequate insurance.
You can read more about the incidents of Bitcoin crimes afflicted on the people involved in the Bitcoin space here.