Hong Kong Police arrests three after Six Bitcoin ATM thieves stole HK$230,000

Investigation shows the criminals targetted six Bitcoin ATMs and carried out their operations in 11 separate transactions

By · Aug 16, 2020 . 5min read

Bitcoin ATM Stolen
Source : Unsplash

The Hong Kong Police have cracked down on a crime syndicate arresting three men who were part of a criminal operation that tricked Bitcoin ATMs stealing up to HK$230,000.

In a South China Morning Post recent news, Hong Kong Police moved in on the Bitcoin ATMs thieves after two cryptocurrency exchanges filed a report. According to the post, the exchanges suspected the criminals had taken advantage of “loopholes” in the Bitcoin ATMs. Subsequently, they withdrew cash without official authorizations.

Although the Hong Kong Police refused to give the details of how the criminals breached the Bitcoin ATMs, Superintendent Wilson Tam, cybersecurity and technology crime bureau said this:

“I cannot reveal what the loopholes are. But any bitcoin transaction needs verification. Maybe the ring bypassed the verifying process before taking the money,”

Hence, the Police Superintendent says

“We have offered security advice to the two companies and believe they will upgrade their systems. It is the first time we came across fraud linked to bitcoin ATMs.”

Additionally, the investigation shows the criminals targetted six Bitcoin ATMs and carried out their operations in 11 separate transactions. The three people arrested were between the ages of 26 to 55. It also believes those arrested are part of a larger crime syndicate.

Bitcoin ATMs are growing across the world as people seek out easy ways to spend their crypto. According to the data from Coinatmradar, shows that there are currently 9,099 Bitcoin ATMs installed across 70 countries.

Hong Kong has 56 Bitcoin ATMs
Source: Coin ATM Radar

Of this number, Hong Kong has 56 operational Bitcoin ATMs. At least 1 of these is located in Mong Kok where the authorities arrested the trio. The Police also seized Cash and smartphones of the suspects.

With Hong Kong as the latest case, Bitcoin ATM thefts are increasing.

Earlier this year, two thieves were caught on tape stealing a Bitcoin ATM in the United States. Before that, it was Canada where thieves swiped $4,000 from a Bitcoin ATM located in a grocery store. These two cases added to the Hong Kong Bitcoin ATM theft appears to be reaching the $40,000 of an earlier report. In a 2017 report by Bitcoin.com, thieves stole at least 10 Bitcoin ATMs within two years. In all these cases, the thieves stole a total of $40,000.

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