4 arrested over Taiwan's first Bitcoin robbery case

AFP
Taiwan police have arrested four men over a Bitcoin robbery worth NT$5 million (US$170,000) in what they said was the first case of its kind on the island.
AFP

Taiwan police have arrested four men over a Bitcoin robbery worth NT$5 million (US$170,000) in what they said was the first case of its kind on the island.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code that allows anonymous transactions and its value has soared since it came into being in 2009.

Taiwan police said three men in their early 20s lured a man surnamed Tai to the city of Taichung, pretending to be interested in buying Bitcoins from him.

After Tai showed proof of his Bitcoins on his phone, the scammers assaulted him and his friend, then transferred 18 Bitcoins worth NT$5 million from Tai’s account via his phone.

The suspects attempted to pass off the heist as a drunken row by forcing the victim to drink Kaoliang, a strong liquor, Taichung city police said in a statement.

Police arrived at the scene after receiving a call about a dispute and one man was detained. The other two had fled. 

“Police saw bloodstains at the scene and after further investigation, it was discovered to be a Bitcoin virtual currency robbery,” the statement released on Wednesday said.

It described the case, which happened earlier this month, as Taiwan’s first case of Bitcoin robbery.

The two other suspects were later arrested, one on the outlying island of Kinmen where he had gone to escape police.

The fourth man, surnamed Shih, believed to be the mastermind behind the robbery, was also detained.

Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are independent of governments and banks and use blockchain technology, where encrypted digital coins are created by supercomputers.

However, calls are mounting for the virtual currencies to be regulated, and prices have fluctuated wildly in recent months amid concerns over tightened control.



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