On January 28th, 2019, bitcoin enthusiast and cypherpunk Seccour posted a series of Tweets announcing that his friend’s house in Oman has been robbed by three men. The casualties involve over 3000 bitcoins, 6 million AED in cash (approximately 1.63 million dollars), a few paintings, and many more valuable goods.
The bitcoiner has lost money and important documents in this massive robbery, but is mostly concerned about a silver ring which is inscribed with his initials and has sentimental value. As a result of this unfortunate event, Seccour’s friend (who lost all the bitcoins and art pieces) is offering 250 BTC to anyone who brings to him any of the three thieves, with the possibility of accumulating the reward if more of the criminals are brought to justice. Furthermore, if the cash, BTC, and/or art pieces get returned to their rightful owners, then 25% of their value will be offered to the benevolent vigilante.
In his tweets, the cypherpunk has explained that he believes the theft was his fault, as he has been followed by three men in the past weeks. The period also coincided with a visit he made to his friend’s house (the one who lost most of the cash, bitcoins, and paintings). Prior to the heist, he also noticed that his online accounts were behaving in a strange way, and some passwords were no longer working.
Hello fellow bitcoiners,
Yesterday one of my friend was robbed at his house by 3 men in Oman. Thankfully he was not injured in the robbery but got 3k+ BTC and ~6M AED (cash) stolen, as well as some physical BTC and a few paintings.
— Seccour (@Seccour_FR) January 27, 2019
While Seccour has announced that he’d be away for a few days in order to take care of his personal security, he took the time to describe the three suspects: a tall (around 6 foot 1/ 1.85 meters) white male with a tattoo on his hand, a tanned white male of medium height (around 5 foot 9/ 1.75 meters), and a slightly taller (around 5 foot 10/ 1.79 meters) Asian-looking man. All of them speak English without any kind of noticeable accent.
Before signing off, the bitcoiner expressed his pessimism in regards to the chances of catching the thieves – he acknowledged that the information mostly serves his close acquaintances who might worry about his online absence, and added that the descriptions of the criminals are not enough to allow anyone to catch them.
All details can be found by opening the Twitter thread attached above.
Bitcoiners are becoming targets for thieves
Since December 2014, when Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney had been SWATted and harassed for months, almost 45 other cases of Bitcoin-related house robberies have been reported. Interestingly, they happen around all corners of the world and target potential Bitcoin buyers, individual holders, miners, and even exchanges. The thieves usually resort to armed robberies, but have also resorted to torture, kidnaps of dear ones, home invasions, and even ATM thefts.
Statistically, most of these cases have been reported in 2017 and 2018, when the price of Bitcoin has increased substantially and the media has covered more stories about the rise of cryptocurrencies. It’s also worth noting that most known cities where bitcoiners have meet-ups seem to have recorded incidents.
Since Bitcoin transactions are irreversible and there are multiple ways to mix coins or perform trades in untraceable privacy coins like Monero, these cases are becoming even more difficult to solve. But financial autonomy also comes with the responsibility to take care of the security of both your coins and your physical safety, and you should always be aware that prevention is a better way to make sure that these attacks never happen to you.
Therefore, it’s important to remember that disclosing the amount of bitcoins you hold is inadvisable and an indirect invitation for thieves, and you should always take great precaution when participating in meet-ups or buying coins from unknown people. From being able to use physical self-defense techniques to choosing the people you trust very wisely, there are plenty of ways to protect your digital assets while ensuring the safety of your loved ones.
The case of Seccour is definitely interesting, but it’s very unlikely for the bitcoins to ever return to their rightful owner. As cryptocurrencies gain popularity, we should (unfortunately) expect many more such cases.