Western Cape Gangwatch, an anti-crime website, and Facebook group, received an anonymous message demanding Bitcoin [BTC] as ransom to return a missing nine-year-old. The kidnappers have demanded five Bitcoin, which is approximately $19,000, to release the girl, reported Bitcoinafrica.
The nine-year-old was identified to be Linathi Titshala and was last seen on December 16, 2018, near her grandmother’s house. As per the publication, Linathi had come home on December 16 to take a bath and was not seen ever since. She celebrated her birthday on December 14 and had been living with her grandmother.
Later, the admin of the Western Cape Gangwatch group, received an email saying:
“Do you want to find Linathi Titshala. If you want her safe return you are to pay 5 Bitcoin to the following Bitcoin address. 1Bk4TQzDXhxGgMwrXcaFhViSyoT9GLk2kN. You have 48 hours should you not transfer the bitcoin in 48 hours we will cease communication. This email is going to be deleted in 12 hours.”
The group, which has been working with law enforcement agencies, was shocked receiving the mail and tried tracing the email but could not find any luck in doing so. The publication reported a spokesperson of the group saying:
“We are trying to track it via the Bitcoin code, but believe the email the person is using was probably created at an Internet café, which automatically deletes it and there is no IP address available either. Hopefully, they realize the family’s circumstances and realize they cannot keep the girl for a lengthy period.”
The publication also reached out to the group’s Missing Persons Unit, which said that the search is still ongoing and that they are pooling in resources to trace the child. Candice Sobotker from the Missing Persons Unit, said:
“There will be a search for Linathi on Monday, 7 January and Tuesday, 8 January, [from] 9am-4pm. Everyone will meet at Delft SAPS. For more information, please contact Candice on 082 225 2612.”
Recently, Dublin’s tram service, luas.ie was also hacked and the users who were trying to access the website on January 3 morning saw a message that threatened to “publish all data and send emails to your users” unless “1 bitcoin” was paid in five days.
The Luas services were not affected, but the threat had caused panic among users. The website took to their Twitter to communicate with the people and posted:
“The Luas website was compromised this morning, and a malicious message was put on the home page. The website has been taken down by the IT company who manage it, and their technicians are working on it. Luas are informed this may take the day to resolve.”
Since Bitcoin transactions are hard to trace due to pseudo-anonymity of the wallet addresses, such cases have been on a rise and are used as a convenient payment method for ransoms.
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LocalBitcoins see steady trading volume in Russian Ruble following cash-trades exodus
LocalBitcoins, the Finland-based peer to peer cryptocurrency exchange, announced earlier this month that trading in a country’s national fiat currency will be disallowed, leading many in the community to believe that countries not on the frontlines of the digital asset world would be hit the hardest. Three weeks on, some defiant trends have been noticed.
According to CoinDance, the weekly LocalBitcoins chart revealed that the Russian Ruble [RUB] recorded towering volumes, even after the June 1 cash-exodus announcement. With many expecting a drop in volume, other top countries have also seen the absence of an immediate plummet, with Moscow being the stand-out.
The first week of June saw a notable high of RUB 1,174 million in volume owing to the native currency, while the aftershock of the announcement dropped the same down by to RUB 1,104 million by the second week. The next two weeks saw the volume surge back to its May 2019 heights, with the week beginning on June 22 recording a volume of RUB 1,188 million in volume.
On the basis of the above data, Russia is indeed a positive LocalBitcoins market.
The Finnish exchange has also been popular in South America, with its weekly volumes doing exceedingly well in the markets of Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, and Argentina, with Brazil, the only Latin American country left-out.
Buenos Aries saw its weekly volume from the initial weeks of June to mid-June drop from $13.71 million to $10.53 million, following the cash-removal announcement. In terms of the Colombian Peso, CoinDance stated that the number for the same was $9.98 billion towards the close of May 2018, and dropped to $7.16 billion by the first week of June. However, the same has since stabilized to stand at $9.2 billion.
LocalBitcoins began mulling the possibility of phasing out fiat currency trades following its inclusion under the supervision of Finland’s financial watchdog, the Financial Supervisory Authority [FSA] in March 2019. This inclusion was made days after Finnish legislators stated that cryptocurrency-based assets would be given legal status under the law. However, the act will officially come into force later in November 2019.
Additionally, several changes were made to the country’s Anti Money Laundering [AML] laws and Countering Financial Terrorism Act [CTF], which would require the exchange to follow the stated guidelines.
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