Categories: Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin ATM thieves nabbed in Hong Kong


Three suspects who stole almost US$30,000 [AUS$41,380] in cash from Bitcoin ATM machines in Hong Kong have been arrested.

The three men are between the ages of 26 and 55, and police believe they are part of a larger criminal syndicate.

Cheating the system for cash

The men found a way to withdraw cash from multiple Bitcoin ATMs. Police were alerted to the crime by two cryptocurrency exchanges who filed charges.

How the culprits were able to bypass verification security has not been revealed by the police. Superintendent Wilson Tam Wai-shun of the cybersecurity and technology crime bureau only said, “I cannot reveal what the loopholes are. But any bitcoin transaction needs verification. Maybe the ring bypassed the verifying process before taking the money.”

He added, “We have offered security advice to the two companies and believe they will upgrade their systems. It is the first time we came across fraud linked to bitcoin ATMs.”

Overall, the three suspects stole a total of HK$226,000 [AUS$40,220] in cash from six separate Bitcoin ATM machines. There were a total of 11 transactions made, and the largest transaction was for HK$54,000 [AUS$6,906].

The three men, who claim to be unemployed, were arrested on charges of conspiracy to defraud.

Bitcoin ATM numbers

The number of Bitcoin ATM machines available for public use continues to grow on a daily basis. According to Coin ATM Radar, there are currently 9,164 cryptocurrency ATMs across the globe. The scale of growth is phenomenal as 18.3 machines are installed every single day.

The vast majority of crypto ATMs (84.4%) are found in North America. Overall, there are 57 Bitcoin ATM machines located in Hong Kong.

Authorities in Hong Kong consider Bitcoin a virtual commodity and not legal tender. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued a statement in September 2017 that said digital tokens issued in ICOs were shares in a collective investment scheme and would, therefore, be considered securities.

The SFC noted, “In such cases, dealing in or advising on the digital tokens, or managing or marketing a fund investing in such digital tokens, might constitute a regulated activity and would require registration or a license from the SFC.”

In other financial and legal news for Hong Kong, the United States just ended three agreements between the U.S. and Hong Kong. These agreements included tax exemptions and extraditions. The reason for this move is due to the government of China suppressing freedoms promised to the citizens of Hong Kong.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, says, “The Chinese Communist Party chose to crush the freedoms and autonomy of the people of Hong Kong. Because of the CCP’s actions, we are terminating or suspending three of our bilateral agreements with the territory.”

Images courtesy of ajay_suresh/Flickr, saiko3p/Shutterstock

Jeff Francis

Jeff has taken a roundabout way to becoming a cryptocurrency writer. He has always had a huge interest in history, which led to him receiving a degree in medieval history. He once thought of becoming a teacher but eventually joined some friends in opening a hobby shop. Jeff eventually took over sole proprietorship of the business and ran it for over 10 years. He then moved on to online selling and then into gaming journalism. He has spent the last 10 years writing professionally for various websites as well as creating content for many businesses. A few years back, he began hearing about Bitcoin and the rise of other cryptocurrencies. A proponent of allowing people to take economic power into their own hands, Jeff has enthusiastically supported cryptocurrencies, not to mention the many benefits of blockchain technology. This interest propelled him to becoming a writer for, and later editor of, several cryptocurrency-focused websites. Jeff is a lifelong geek and gamer. He tries to keep up with the slew of TV shows and movies that fall into the fantasy/sci-fi/superhero genres, and he still plays pen-and-paper role-playing games on the weekends. He lives in Florida, USA, as he cannot stand cold weather.

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