Since the birth of cryptocurrency, criminals have increasingly come up with ways to illegally part hard-earned crypto from the hands of its legitimate owners. As a result, crypto-related crime is often in the headlines and used by anti-cryptocurrency circles to discredit virtual finance.
Generally, crime surrounding Bitcoin centers around the hacking of exchanges or the virtual theft of passwords resulting in the loss of investment for crypto traders. However, cryptocurrency theft can equally take place in real-world scenarios, as one unfortunate U.S. entrepreneur discovered recently.
Zaryn Dentzel, a 38-year-old U.S. national now living in Spain, is one of the co-founders of the social media network, often referred to as the ”Spanish Facebook”, called Tuenti. He was also a holder of tens of millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin. Last month, it was targeted by masked criminals seeking to steal his cryptocurrency.
The attack took place at Dentzel’s home in the Spanish capital of Madrid. Spanish media reported that around five masked men illegally entered his house around 3 pm on the 9th of October. Security cameras inside were obscured by the gang before Dentzel was tied up, gagged, and sprayed with pepper spray.
The men then held the victim for four hours, beat him, and tortured him with a taser in order to force him to reveal the passwords to his cryptocurrency accounts and hardware wallets. To make the assault end, Dentzel relented and handed over his passwords and virtual keys. The gang also seized his laptops, smartphones, and hard drives.
Spanish police were alerted to the incident when neighbors reported hearing screams for help coming from Dentzel’s apartment. Other witnesses reported seeing a gang of masked men fleeing down the street carrying bags of stolen goods.
Despite the horrific assault, the gang was thankfully unable to successfully steal any of Dentzel’s cryptocurrency assets. Spanish police have reportedly made no arrests so far, but the investigation is ongoing and the police are working with Dentzel to corroborate his version of events.
With crypto crime on the rise, criminals are resorting to a mixture of real-world and online tactics to steal digital currency. Recently, Jason Ma from Insider reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned that thieves are increasingly resorting to using cryptocurrency ATMs and QR codes to con crypto holders into handing over their digital finances.
An example of this fake-notification scam tactic took place last month when a user on the Coinbase platform lost over $11.6 million in the space of just ten minutes.