Wife of Norwegian Millionaire’s Kidnappers Begin Sending Crypto Ransom Messages via a Blockchain
Kidnappers of a Norwegian millionaire’s wife demand $10 million USD ransom paid in cryptocurrency. The authorities further confirmed that the kidnappers have started communicating through the cryptocurrency transactions. More cryptocurrency ransom payments asked for by kidnappers in South Africa.
Cryptocurrencies have been vilified in media stations around the world as tools to promote global crime. While the narrative is not entirely true, the assets are seeing an increase in the use of illegal activities in the past few months. One key area of growth is ransom payments as more kidnappers prefer cryptocurrency payments to the traditional cash drop-offs.
This was the case in October 2018 as kidnappers of Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, wife to millionaire Tom Hagen, asked for a $10 million USD ransom to be paid in Monero cryptocurrency (XMR). Further reports confirm that the kidnappers have started communicating through blockchains. Tom Hagen, is a businessman worth 1.7 billion Norwegian kroner (~US $200 million).
The Absurd Development – Cryptographic Messages?
Anne Hagen, turning 69 in a couple of months was kidnapped back in October 2018 and is yet to be found as enforcement agencies’ leads are yet to plan out. The police leads were able to follow two suspects who outside were Anne Hagen’s office the day she went missing but are yet to identify the suspects. The police cautioned Tom from paying the ransom as they try to trace the culprits. With no proof of life sent to Tom, fears cripple to the actual state of the wife and whether she is safe.
The kidnappers went silent since the kidnapping which has made the search for Anne even harder. However, the Norwegian police confirmed to local reporters that the kidnappers have started communicating through cryptocurrencies. Speaking to one of the media outlets in the country on the disappearance of Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, police inspector Tommy Brøske said,
“However, I cannot say anything more about the type of cryptocurrency that is in question. The counterparty has, as is known, changed the communication platform during the latest contact with the lawyer and the police, without being able to comment further than has been done so far.”
The actual form of communication remains unknown but it may be private and encrypted messages through the Monero blockchain. The privacy coin offers obscurity of the sender of the message unlike other public blockchains such as Bitcoin.
More Cryptocurrency Ransom?
The kidnappers today seem to be focusing on crypto payments as more cases were reported in South Africa. A 9-year-old girl in South Africa, Linathi Titshala, was kidnapped as she headed home from her grandma’s place only two blocks away. The kidnappers asked for a ransom of 5 BTC that is yet to be paid as the family has no means to raise the amount. After 2 months of searching for the girl, police fears the worst as the kidnappers have closed all contacts.
Two suspects have been arrested after kidnapping a 13-year old boy in South Africa after a ransom of $108,000 USD in Bitcoins was asked. The police were able to trace the suspects after they tried to kidnap another 13-year-old girl who was saved by her screams to which the public responded.