As Bitcoin flirts with the $50,000 mark, some people are tempted to grow their crypto wallets, hopefully without too much effort, including using the most dishonest processes. Thus, more and more 2.0 thieves are seizing the opportunity to demand ransom in cryptocurrencies for example by using ransomware
. As creativity and malice know no bounds, some even go so far as to fake their own kidnapping in order to obtain bitcoins!
“23.5 Bitcoins, or nothing!»
In Venezuela, a 23-year-old man, Andrés Jesus Dos Santos Hernandez, is wanted by the local police (CICPC) for money laundering and swindling. The young man, a financial operator, is suspected of organizing and faking his own kidnapping to obtain 23.66 bitcoins, equivalent to about $1.15 million at current prices. He is still actively sought by authorities.
<img width=”603″ height=”460″ src=”//www.w3.org/2000/svg’%20viewBox=’0%200%20603%20460’%3E%3C/svg%3E” alt=’Venezuelan press tweet on the search for Andrés Jesus Dos Santos Hernandez suspected of staging his kidnapping to obtain a Bitcoin ransom. ” /><img width=”603″ height=”460″ src=”https://yellowrocketagency.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/image-58..png” alt=’Venezuelan press tweet on the search for Andrés Jesus Dos Santos Hernandez suspected of organizing his kidnapping for Bitcoin ransom. ” />Venezuelan press tweet about the search for the suspected perpetrator – Twitter
The CICPC explains that the individual reportedly told his clients that their funds had been stolen, under threat from alleged kidnappers, who forced him to transfer all of the bitcoins under management to multiple wallets. However, the investigation soon revealed that the incredible story could have been fabricated. There would be in reality neither kidnappers nor kidnapping but a simple young Venezuelan in search of satoshis.
This story is reminiscent of a tragic event that took place in the same country at the beginning of August in the state of Zulia. A 39-year-old shopkeeper was kidnapped and his captors demanded a ransom of 1.5 bitcoin. Nevertheless, negotiations had lowered the ransom to 0.5 BTC as only a tiny fraction had been raised. Two days later, the victim’s body was found riddled with bullets on the public highway
Bitcoin, soon to be a favorite for ransomware?
As early as 2018, Control Risks reported an increase in ransomware demands
in bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. Indeed, in 2017 the same company had reported an average of two digital asset ransomware demands per quarter, compared to an average of one demand every month for the year 2018. Almost every continent was already affected by this new crime.
Countries affected by cypto-currency ransomware demands – Source: Control Risks
Since 2018, the practice of cryptocurrency ransomware has grown widely among cybercriminals. These demands have various criminal bases: data theft, getting the services of a hitman, or even sexual slavery
. It is likely that this type of ransom has attracted kidnappers because of its anonymous nature, but above all because of the regulations which are still in their infancy.
In France, these ransom demands, particularly through ransomware, are not sanctioned by the application of a special offense. These procedures fall under the traditional incrimination of extortion, which consists of obtaining, under duress, by violence or threats, something immaterial (renunciation, commitment, revelation of a secret) or material (handing over of funds, or any other property
). Extortion is punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment and a fine of up to 100,000 euros.
Even if the penalties in some countries
are very heavy, unfortunately the fashion seems to be for crypto-ransomware. In addition to the usual scams, a real cancer of the industry, the rise and democratization of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies also goes hand in hand with a growing interest of cybercriminals in this new asset class.
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