A Venezuelan citizen identified as Gustavo Torres González was murdered yesterday when his family failed to gather ransom money that kidnappers requested be paid in bitcoin. Torres was abducted on August 10 when he was presumably heading home in the Zulia state, according to police. The kidnappers quickly communicated with Torres’ family and asked to be paid 1.5 bitcoin to release him, according to local media. However, his family was not able to gather the funds, and in communications with the kidnappers, managed to lower the ransom to 0.5 bitcoin.
Still, this was tragically a sum too hefty for his family to acquire, who only managed to gather 0.062 bitcoin ($2,750). Torres’ corpse was later discovered with six gunshot wounds on a local highway on August 11.
While the kidnappers explicitly stated they would only take the ransom money in bitcoin, Torres had no apparent relation with cryptocurrencies. He was the owner of a local ISP internet company in the area, called Tutonet Investments. However, it is unclear if the Venezuelan citizen had any relationship with cryptocurrency mining operations, or if he accepted payments in cryptocurrency for his services.
The popularity of cryptocurrency in the country has caused an increase in scams and crime using these new assets. Cryptocurrencies, due to their innovative design, can sometimes be more difficult to track than money moved via traditional fiat avenues. Still, statistics show that the overwhelming majority of crimes are still conducted by way of fiat money, and not cryptocurrencies.
This is not the first time that a crime like this has happened. William Creighton, founder of an online gambling site called 5Dimes, was also kidnapped in Costa Rica in September 2018. Kidnappers asked for a ransom of $5 million dollars paid in bitcoin, but his family could only pay $1 million. His body was found in a nearby cemetery one year later, buried beneath a nameless tombstone.