Thursday, June 20, 2019

Kidnappers of Norwegian Billionaire’s Wife Demand Ransom in Monero

The wife of one of Norway’s richest businessman, Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hage, has been kidnapped and her abductors are currently demanding a sum of 9 million Euros to be in the Monero (XMR) crypto coin.

Monero Demand in Kidnap

Hagen, who is one of Norway’s richest billionaire, is the 172nd richest man in the country. It is believed his wife was abducted from their family-detached home in Fjellhamar. Anne-Elisabeth Hagen, 68, has been missing since October last year, and the news has been carefully kept under wraps as the police treated it as a kidnap case, according to Norwegian news outlet, Romerikes Blad.

After keeping quiet for several weeks, the abductors finally made contact first through a written note dropped in the house. In the note, Hagen’s kidnappers reportedly demanded about 9 million euros in payment via the cryptocurrency coin, Monero, which is notorious for its privacy.  Threats were subsequently made against Hagen’s health if the matter was shared with the police or the media; the more reason why the police are cautiously refusing to share more information with the public or the media.

The crypto coin, Monero, which is becoming increasingly popular among cybercriminals and kidnappers, has obviously been chosen in this particular case of its privacy and anti-tracking properties.

Bitcoin Dropped for Monero in Underworld

While bitcoin (BTC) became notorious among shady perpetrators and criminals in the first half-decade after its inception, a lot of technological researches have been carried out to track digital records at to warn exchanges of shady deals before they are completed. This has forced actors of illicit activities to turn to a ‘safer’ means of exploitation.

Monero’s intensive focus on ensuring anonymity and protecting customer’s privacy has been a welcome development to criminals at large. Now cyber criminals and kidnappers have ditched BTC for the privacy of Monero, and its adaptable implementation in burner phones. In 2017, cases of ransomware exploded over the internet as cybercriminals attacked thousands of WordPress sites per hour while demanding ransoms in Monero. Analytic firms such as Chainalysis which has devoted resources to tracking digital hoards and criminal activities have found no successes with Monero as they have found with BTC. Another altcoin, Zcash which was a favourite of criminals is less becoming popular than Monero has Monero maintains its hard-shelled privacy.

When questioned last year – Riccardo Spagni, a major developer at Monero – said the company is not in any way in support of the criminal activities monero is becoming notorious for.

“If you have a decentralised currency, it’s not like you can prevent someone from using it. I imagine that monero provides massive advantages for criminals over bitcoin, so they would use monero,” he said.

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