Criminals in Sweden are targeting prominent local Bitcoin figures, and the incidents appear to be the result of the easy access to personal information and residential addresses in the country. Reports from Swedish media outlets LT and Aftonbladet have linked separate robberies in Rönninge and Södertälje that seem to have occurred under the same modus operandi. The victims were tied up and physically abused to steal physical and virtual Bitcoin holdings.
Prominent cryptocurrency proponent Eric Wall, a StarkNet Foundation board member, highlighted the incidents in a post. Wall noted that the two assault cases indicate that Swedish criminals are actively looking to target Bitcoin users.
Wall pointed out that a middle-aged Swedish couple was tied up in their home and robbed by four masked men. During this incident, the couple was physically abused and threatened with their own kitchen knives. They were tied up for hours, and one had to be escorted to the hospital. The purpose of the assault was to steal the couple’s Bitcoin before highlighting the link to a separate incident where two well-known Bitcoin/crypto profiles were targeted in their homes by masked, armed men.
According to Wall, the victims were subjected to violent physical abuse for hours in an effort to steal their Bitcoin holdings held in hardware wallets. He added that the first incident of criminals targeting Bitcoin users took place in 2022, when “one of Sweden’s most well-known Bitcoiners” had their apartment broken into.
Wall also believes that criminals scour social media to identify and target Bitcoin or cryptocurrency users. He claims that a common theme of the attacks was that they took place shortly after individuals had live-streamed podcasts focused on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies or mentioned the subject in public.
He also believes that Sweden’s Offentlighetsprincipen (Principle of Public Access to Information) laws, which give the public the right to request information, including residential addresses and tax records from the government, are becoming a means for criminals to prey on ecosystem participants.
The Offentlighetsprincipen law also reportedly makes it easy for citizens to search for Swedish residents’ addresses as well as scour their tax records. This is being abused, as criminals can ascertain how much an individual has paid in income or capital gains tax and “size them up” as a result.
Wall adds that he left the country due to these laws and that Sweden “is probably one of the least safe countries to be active in the cryptocurrency sector.”
This alarming trend sheds light on the need for increased security measures for Bitcoin users in Sweden. Cybersecurity experts and law enforcement agencies need to collaborate to address the vulnerabilities in the system that make it easier for criminals to target prominent figures in the cryptocurrency space. The incidents also highlight the importance of safeguarding personal information and creating awareness about potential threats to individuals involved in cryptocurrency transactions.
To mitigate such risks, there is a clear need for the government and regulatory authorities to review the laws that allow easy access to personal information, thereby exposing individuals to potential threats. Likewise, individuals involved in the cryptocurrency space should exercise caution and take proactive measures to secure their personal information and assets against the growing menace of targeted attacks by criminals.