Bitcoin is being stolen at gunpoint in New York

Bitcoin is being stolen at gunpoint in New York

By Ryan Whitwam Feb. 20, 2015 1:30 pm Bitcoins

Most of the Bitcoin-related crime you hear about has to do with shady internet dealings or virtual stashes of the cryptocurrency being stolen from online repositories. But a good old-fashioned stick-up? That’s a new one. Apparently there have been a spate of such crimes in New York that have left police with few, if any leads.
The most recent Bitcoin robbery reported to police is typical for this new breed of crime. New York City firefighter Dwayne Richards headed to Brooklyn to meet up with someone who apparently wanted to exchange Bitcoins for cash. Instead he was mugged and stabbed, but survived and is recovering well. The thief made off with the Bitcoins and it’s unlikely they will be seen again.

Despite being a virtual currency that’s mostly used online, one of the most reliable and speedy ways to buy and sell Bitcoins with real money is to find a person in real life to facilitate the deal. There are a number of services that connect buyers and sellers, but they’ve started attracting a more sophisticated mugger. In a similar robbery to the one Richards experienced, Bitcoin seller Dean Katz reports that he was recently forced by a mugger to transfer $8,500 worth of Bitcoins and hand over a further $3,500 in cash.

Bitcoins could actually make a tempting target for more tech-savvy criminals, even if its value has declined somewhat. When Bitcoins are transferred, the movement of the virtual coins is visible in the blockchain for everyone to see. However, it’s completely anonymous. There’s no way to know who has those coins or what happens to them after they’re moved around a few times. A victim could also have access to thousands of dollars in Bitcoin, but no one carries that kind of cash around. It’s all part of the risk of being outside the traditional monetary system, I suppose.

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