A Russian couple who were on holiday in Thailand were robbed of approximately $100,000 in Bitcoin according to local news. They were staying at a condo on a beach when the attack took place.
The Russian couple were staying on Lago Naiharn Beach in Phuket when they were robbed on the 15th of January. The robbery was reported to the Chalong police station two days afterwards.
The victims were Maxim Lastovka and his partner Anna Nikulina. Thankfully for the couple, they were luckily assisted by a Russian tourist official at the police station.
Hand over the Private Keys
According to the report, the couple came back to their home at about 10pm local time. The condo was located on the 4th floor of the apartment unit in the Mueang district of Phuket.
The suspects, who were also Russian, posed as Interpol agents and forced themselves into the unit. Once inside the apartment, they covered the head of Lastovka and took him to a private room.
They were held inside the apartment for 6 hours and the suspects threatened that they would kill Mr Lastovka if he did not give them what they were after. They threatened to inject the couple with a poisonous substance.
What they were after was the passwords to his laptops and the private key to his Bitcoin wallets. Once Mr Lastovka gave them the information that they required, they asked him to send the Bitcoin to their own address.
The criminals not only got away with over $100,000 of his Bitcoin but they also stole the couple’s iPhone X, their iPad, Macbook Pro as well as their credit cards and passports. They also threatened to come back to the couple if they went to the police.
Bandits Got Away
The unfortunate victims with Police – Source: thephuketnews.com
Given that they threatened to return to the couple if they went to the police, the couple delayed reporting the crime. Hence, the thieves were able to make some headway on the authorities before police began the chase.
The stolen iPhone X had tracking turned on and as such, allowed the police to determine where the criminals were escaping to. They first noted that the phone went through a province on the mainland of Thailand before heading into Western Malaysia.
Exactly how the thieves knew that the man had a sizable investment in Bitcoin is not entirely certain. It appears that they were a Russian criminal gang that was tracking the couple. Mr Lastovka had said that he recognised one of the members hanging around the apartment earlier.
The Thai police had issued an international arrest warrant for the criminals and had already contacted their counterparts in Malaysia to alert them of where the iPhone was last tracked.
A Familiar Trend
When most people think of Bitcoin thefts, they will think of hackers who will take off with their Bitcoin using only digital means. However, as this case illustrates, plain vanilla criminals are more than willing to use old tactics to extort their loot.
Indeed, this is not the first time that this has occurred. There were recently reports of a man in New York who was robbed at gunpoint for Bitcoin as well as an news of a Russian exchange operator who was kidnapped in Ukraine.
There are many things that you can do, however, to protect yourself from these sorts of robberies. Firstly, always make sure that you do not let anyone know how much Bitcoin you have. This is one of the ways thieves can easily spot their victims.
Secondly, it may also make sense to hide your Bitcoin among numerous different devices and wallets. Have the really large amounts in cold paper storage that is kept in a safe deposit box.
You may also want to make use of a hardware wallet that you can hide in numerous places. These give you the ability to create numerous different accounts as well. Hence, you can store a smaller amount in one account and only let the criminals know about this account.
Of course, there are many of the normal precautions that you can take in order to make sure you don’t fall victim. Always watch your back, be suspicious of your surroundings and if need be, get protection of some sort.
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