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Bitcoin ransomers arrested for kidnapping in South Africa

Another Bitcoin ransom

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Police in Mpumalanga, South Africa, have arrested two suspects who demanded a Bitcoin BTC ransom following the kidnapping of a teenage boy and the attempted kidnapping of a 13 year-old girl.

The kidnappers demanded just over $100,000 (1.5 million rand) worth of Bitcoin in exchange for the safe return of the teenage boy who was snatched in May last year. The boy was returned to his family a few days after the kidnapping, it was not disclosed whether the ransom had been paid, Times Live reports.

Thankfully, the kidnappers were unsuccessful in kidnapping the 13 year-old girl, but police suspect they would have also demanded a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin had their plans succeeded.

“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,” police brigadier Leonard Hlathi told Times Live

This isn’t the first case of kidnappers demanding Bitcoin from the friends and families of their victims.

Earlier this year, Norwegian criminals snatched the wife of one of the country’s wealthiest men, demanding $10 million worth of Monero in exchange for her safe return.

There is also the case of a missing American businessman whose family paid a $950,000 ransom in Bitcoin, but is still yet to be returned.

It’s unlikely that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are enabling this type of criminal activity. Kidnappings and ransoms are sadly no new phenomenon. All we can hope is that the authorities are well versed on dealing with the decentralized tech in criminal investigations.

Published January 17, 2019 — 09:49 UTC