On December 26th, Russian cryptocurrency investor Pavel Lerner was abducted when he left work in the Obolon district of Kiev. Lerner works for a UK-based Bitcoin exchange called EXMO. He was taken by masked men driving a Mercedes and a ransom of $1m (£750,000) in bitcoin was demanded. This was paid and Lerner was released. It is not known who paid the ransom.
The company was hit by a designated denial of service (DDOS) attack on the 28th of December, which temporarily halted the exchange. It is unclear if this was linked to the abduction.
While Lerner was kidnapped, a spokesperson for EXMO told the BBC that “we also want to stress that nature of Pavel’s job at EXMO doesn’t assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users funds are absolutely safe.”
The volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, with the potential for small investments to yield massive gains in short periods of time, has made those involved in crypto-investment vulnerable to targeted crime.
- BBC: Exmo Bitcoin exchange manager kidnapped in Kiev
- Sydney Morning Herald: Kidnappers free blockchain expert Pavel Lerner after receiving $US1 million ransom in bitcoin
- The Guardian: Ukraine kidnappers release hostage after $1m bitcoin ransom paid
- The Telegraph: Bitcoin exchange chief kidnapped as he leaves work
- Silicon: Blockchain Expert Released By Kidnappers After Ransom Paid
- The Coin Telegraph: Director of UK-Based Crypto Exchange Kidnapped in Kiev
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