Crypto Crime Is Taking A Violent Turn
Dante Disparte | January 28, 2019
While one of the main criticisms of cryptocurrencies is their use in crime, particularly financial evasion and ransomware payments, crypto criminality appears to be taking a new violent turn. The high-profile kidnapping in Norway of Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, billionaire Tom Hagen’s wife, on October 31, 2018 has yielded few clues and confounded law enforcement officials. Her abductors have demanded a ransom of approximately $10 million payable in the lesser known cryptocurrency monero (market cap $735 million), raising the specter of more organized personal threats where the relatively low traceability of cryptocurrencies makes them the thrift of choice for ne’er-do-wells. This case also signals a shift away from bitcoin, which has more robust crime fighting tools, towards alternate cryptocurrencies, where criminals have more than 1,600 cryptocurrencies to choose from. The Norwegian police made this case public due to the lack of clues on Mrs. Hagen’s whereabouts and the lack of evidence or proof of life, which is one of the tell-tale signs of a negotiable kidnapping. Norway has been gripped by this unfortunate event, not only for the unusual nature of the case, but for the crime itself, which is incredibly rare in Scandinavia. This is not the first time there is a demand of a ransom payment or coercion in cryptocurrency.