Two South African Suspects Captured in Bitcoin Ransom Cases for Kidnapping Eight Months Later
In May 2018, a teenage boy named Katlego Marite was kidnapped, right in front of a family friend’s home in Emalahleni, South America.
His kidnappers, at the time, demanded to be paid 1.5 million-rand ($100,000) worth of Bitcoin to return the boy safely. Only a few days later, the boy was given back to his family unharmed, but local publications did not say if the family or someone else had paid the ransom, or if it was paid at all.
The kidnappers later attempted to kidnap a 13-year old girl, but were thankfully unsuccessful, due to bystanders who heard her screams nearby. Now, new reports from TheNextWeb indicate that the police in Mpumalanga, South Africa have managed to apprehend two suspects in this case. Police brigadier Leonard Hlathi said,
“These cases were the first of their kind in Mpumalanga and a task team comprising of different units within the South African Police Service was immediately established by policy management to investigate this matter.”
The two men arrested are Sithabiso Mchunu and Ndumiso Sithole, who were both required to appear in front of the Middelburg Magistrate Court yesterday. Though Mchunu was not arrested until almost the end of December, Sithole was apprehended in November.
Unfortunately, Bitcoin has been arising in more and more of these types of cases. In Norway, a couple of weeks ago, criminals kidnapped a woman who happened to be married to one of the wealthiest men in the country. These kidnappers demanded $10 million in Monero. An American businessman was kidnapped this year as well, and the family paid out the $950,000, but there has been no news of his return.
Considering the nature of Bitcoin, it is unlikely that cryptocurrencies of any kind are encouraging this kind of behavior amongst cybercriminals. As TheNextWeb writes,
“Kidnappings and ransoms are sadly no new phenomenon. All we can hope is that the authorities are well versed on dealing with the decentralized tech in criminal investigations.”