Bitcoin is a digital currency, so thieves are turning to digital methods in order to steal it. We’ve seen big-name hacks, including Binance, Bithumb, and MyBitcoin, all losing huge sums of BTC. Sadly, the amount of real-world attacks to steal BTC is steadily increasing. Bitcoin attacks have been around since Hal Finney first Tweeted about running Bitcoin, and as Bitcoin’s price rises, the attacks are becoming more frequent and increasingly violent.
Let’s run through a few of the most well-known real-world Bitcoin attacks, giving you a chance to learn from the misfortune of others.
Hal Finney – December 2014
Hal Finney is one of the earliest known Bitcoin users, Tweeting “Running Bitcoin” back in 2009. Since then, Finney received hundreds of calls from people, demanding that he gives them Bitcoin in order to make the calls go away. However, one morning when Finney was having a shower, an unknown person decided to Swat him. Within minutes, armed police stormed the house and left Finney out on the front lawn shivering for half an hour. At a point when Finney couldn’t swallow and was in the final stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, this swatting “prank” could have ended tragically.
No Bitcoin was extorted from Finney, and fortunately nobody was harmed during the incident. Sadly, dozens of people have been killed as a result of swatting, prompting many across the internet to shun trolls that partake in the activity.
Steve Manos – July 2016
Steve Manos was a renowned Bitcoin trader and would often sell Bitcoin in person to people looking to get their hands on the digital currency. On a sticky July evening in 2016, Manos agreed to do a $28,000 trade with a couple of guys in a carpark. The deal was set to go down at midnight, but instead the duo decided to rob Manos at gunpoint, making off with the cash. That night, Manos was a buyer, producing 28 bundles of $1,000 to the person in the passenger seat of his car. At that point, a second person entered the car and sat behind Manos, placing a gun on his chest.
Manos gave up the cash and called the police once he was away from the thieves. Andre Allen was arrested shortly after the crime and Manos picked him out of a lineup. It’s due to incidents like this that LocalBitcoins has pulled its Bitcoin for Cash transactions.
Icelandic Big Bitcoin Heist – December 2017
In a crime that is being dubbed the Big Bitcoin Heist, an eleven person strong group broke into an Icelandic crypto mining farm and made off with 600 ASIC mining rigs. Iceland has proven itself as the most popular country for crypto mining thanks to its cool climate and low-cost power. At the time of the heist, the rigs were worth an estimated $2 million, but if plugged in and used, they could have mined an awful lot of Bitcoin.
The police have been monitoring power consumption in the country as well as keeping an eye out for ASIC rigs with the same serial numbers pop up on dark web stores. However, until today the ASIC rigs are still missing and an unnamed Bitcoin mining farm in Iceland has had to suffer the loss of its machines.
Abdul Shakoor – August 2019
Scamming people out of their money is never going to end well, and Abdul Shakoor from Kerala, India found out the hard way. Shakoor ran a bogus investment company, bagging a whopping $67.6 million from investors all throughout Kerela. Shakoor then invested it into a range of cryptocurrencies, losing huge amounts along the way. After his trading plan went wrong, Shakoor fled to Dehradun where he was beaten to death by five men looking to get their crypto back.
In South Africa, we saw a scammer using a similar cover flee his hometown after his investments went badly. Protestors eventually looted and burned his house to the ground, but the scammer in this case escaped with his life. If you’re going to scam people, you really are taking your life into your own hands.
Keep Your Crypto Secret!
The first rule of crypto is to never tell anyone about how much crypto you have – not even your partner. If nobody knows that you’re investing crypto or how much you have, then you’re instantly less of a target. Sadly, hundreds of people lose their lives every year due to real-world Bitcoin attacks, so make sure you keep yourself safe.