By Ryan Velez
We often hear of the “curse of the lottery” where people who happen on the one-in-a-million windfall end up either destitute, alienated, or even dead. Part of this is due to being targeted by unscrupulous individuals, and Celebrity Net Worth reports that the same thing is happening to another class of overnight millionaires: who are making their money through cryptocurrency.
The New York Times reports that individuals known to have large amounts of cryptocurrency in their digital possessions are being increasingly targeted by kidnappers looking for big scores. Cryptocurrency fortunes already have an element of risk, including how much the prices are fluctuating, and difficulties in converting your fortune into actual cash. But it’s another element that makes it so appealing to potential kidnappers: the anonymity.
Once a transaction is made, it’s difficult for a third party to verify the two parties in question. However, this same factor makes it easier for kidnappers to extort ransoms and runoff, so to speak, than it would be for a traditional robbery. Such kidnappings have reportedly occurred everywhere from Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia to the UK, the United States, and even Canada. Ransoms demanded have sometimes surpassed a million dollars in value. What makes this so difficult to deal with is that law enforcement basically has nothing they can do unless they get lucky with computer traces or video footage.
Cryptocurrency firm Chainalysis founder Jonathan Levin spoke to The New York Times about the trend:
“This is now becoming more pervasive and touching more law enforcement divisions that deal with organized crime and violent crime on a local level.”
To protect themselves and their currency, some cryptorich individuals are employing security measures beyond the typical security staff that the rich enjoy. One example is a security system called “multisignature” which requires numerous approvals before a transaction is finalized, making ransom attempts more complicated. Another option that is in the planning stage is something called a duress wallet. This would be the equivalent of a fake wallet when traveling, carrying a small amount of cryptocurrency in case of kidnapping. Of course, with cryptocurrency still being the “wild west” in many ways, it can be difficult to find any one way that is guaranteed to keep you safe.