Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows that public interest in cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, has been skyrocketing within the past year. Everyone’s looking to cash in on the next generation of finance and hoping to strike it rich, but with this newfound fame comes a newfound means for criminals to prey upon some of the community’s richest adopters of this technology.
The most common risk for large bagholders comes in the form of hackers looking to steal private keys to wallets where investors store their coins. Once the hacker gains access to these keys, they can possibly make off with thousands if not millions of dollars worth of the highly sought out new currencies.
In today’s case, however, the perpetrators did not take to the internet as most do when attempting to make off with digital currencies, instead, they decided to take their scheme out of the digital world of the internet and into the streets of Kiev.
Pavel Lerner, Head of analytics and trading at EXMO, one of Russia’s most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, has reportedly been kidnapped. According to reports, Lerner had long been working within the cryptocurrency space and had a large stake in mining, which is computing power dedicated to validating each transaction and pays the miner a small fee in exchange for their work.
According to friends of the Russian crypto entrepreneur, the last anyone had heard from him was around lunchtime on December 26, 2017. Friends also reported Lerner missing that same day.
According to a report from Strana.ua, Lerner had been near his office in Poland’s capital when he was grabbed by masked men and thrown into a black Mercedes.
The investigation into Lerner’s kidnapping is still ongoing. So far, there is no determined motive, but it has been speculated that the kidnappers are either looking for ransom or are hoping to gain access to Lerner’s private keys to either his personal cryptocurrency wallets or access to EXMO’s servers.
A spokesperson for the EXMO exchange has assured customers of the exchange that Lerner was not involved in day-to-day activities and his absence will not impact transactions through the website. EXMO also says they are doing everything within their power to cooperate with the investigation and bring Lerner back safely.