British cryptocurrency trader ‘forced at gunpoint to make bitcoin transfer’
The armed robbery is the latest in a spate of violent real-world crimes targeting virtual currencies
Armed men broke into the home of a cryptocurrency trader in Britain and are believed to have forced him at gunpoint to transfer holdings of bitcoin.
Thames Valley police said they were seeking witnesses who might have seen the four raiders who broke into the house in the picturesque Oxfordshire village of Moulsford, and threatened the trader and his partner. But they would not confirm local reports the target of the raiders was not physical property but the man’s stock of the cryptocurrency.
It would be the first such robbery in Britain. But there have been a spate of similar crimes around the world as the value of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have soared.
Police said nobody had been seriously hurt in what they described as “a targeted incident”. They were called to the house off Reading Road at about 9.40am on January 22 and officers later visited a nearby school as a precaution. Police said the investigation was in its early stages and warned local residents to expect an increased police presence.
They are particularly interested in anyone with mobile phone images, or dashcam footage from motorists driving through the village at around the time of the incident.
The soaring value of bitcoin was the subject of much discussion at Davos in the past week, with politicians warning of clampdowns on trading because of its association with criminality.
Last week, three people armed with handguns tied up staff at the Ottawa office of Canadian Bitcoins and ordered them to make a transfer of the digital currency. But police arrived before the transfer could take place and one of the suspects was arrested.
Meanwhile, in New York, kidnapping and armed robbery charges were laid in November against a man who allegedly stole US$1.8million of the Ethereum digital currency at gunpoint, by forcing the victim to hand over his mobile phone and the encryption keys used to access his digital wallet.