Kidnappers make off with 160,000 euros in bitcoin after kidnapping Indian real estate tycoon

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An Indian real estate tycoon saw his worst nightmare come true. The unfortunate Arjun Bhargava was kidnapped by three men and then assaulted and held at gunpoint. Eventually, the victim was released after he transferred 8 bitcoin (about 160,000 euros) to the robbers.

Three hours of assault

The kidnappers posed as real estate traders and thus lured the real estate tycoon into a trap. Arjun Bhargava was immediately tied by his hands and feet upon arrival, thrown into a car and taken to a house in Barabanki. There Bhargava was then mistreated for three hours.

According to his wife Nidhi Bhargava, her husband eventually revealed the password to his account at gunpoint. With that information, the kidnappers were able to send Bhargava’s 8 bitcoin to their own wallets. “They also forced my husband to transfer money to their bank account and opened fire after he refused,” said Nidhi Bhargava.

Fortunately, Arjun Bhargava was not injured in the incident and was dumped on the roadside by the kidnappers after the transaction. The kidnapping marks the first case in India where the kidnappers are demanding bitcoin as ransom.

Indian police have arrested three suspects

It did not take long for the Indian police to track down the kidnappers. In fact, they received a tip-off from an anonymous informant, who saw the incident happen and managed to note down the license plate of the car in question. “Then we set a trap and lured them into a park on Tuesday, where they were probably trying to steal more money from the businessman, and arrested the three men,” said the informant.

Two of the men fled the scene, but fell into a muddy part of the park. There they were subsequently handcuffed. Police have since seized cash, a gun, three USB sticks, five cell phones and a car.

It is unclear so far what happened to the businessman’s 8 bitcoin. As long as the kidnappers do not reveal the private keys of their wallet, it is impossible for the authorities to recover them.

Bitcoin heist in the Netherlands

Although it was the first case of a bitcoin robbery or kidnapping for India, we have seen this a few times before in the Netherlands. In December 2021, trend watcher Vincent Everts was held at gunpoint in his own home in Amsterdam while in the middle of a live stream. “Fuck you! What is this now? What is it?”, Everts shouts. Then, off-screen, someone shouts “bitcoin!”, to which Everts responds with: “I don’t have bitcoin at all.”

In the end, Everts gets off with a scare and manages to convince the robbers that he cannot access his bitcoin at that moment. Everts has probably stored his bitcoin in such a way that he cannot send it immediately.

Incidents like this show the downside of being able to manage bitcoin completely independently of protected financial institutions. If you don’t keep your bitcoin safe enough, it’s possible for robbers to enter your home and demand that you transfer everything there.

Think of it as a lesson and think carefully about the way you store your crypto. The best way is to do it in a way where it is impossible to just access your assets. For example by using a time lock or a multi-signature setup.

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