Crypto-related deaths have been making headlines in recent months, with cases popping up around the world. Last month in Sofia, Bulgarian plumbers discovered the decomposing remains of 41-year-old United States crypto mogul Christian Peev in a blocked drain, suspected to have been murdered by a jealous friend. In Buenos Aires, a group of children stumbled upon the dismembered body of missing cryptocurrency millionaire Fernando Pérez Algaba in a river, pointing to organized crime as the culprit. These are just a couple of examples in a string of crypto-related deaths that have occurred over the past 10 months.
Ken Gamble, co-founder and executive chairman of financial crime intelligence firm IFW Global, believes that the rise in these deaths can be attributed to the increase in organized crime and money laundering using cryptocurrency. Gamble states that “crypto-related crime has become bigger than ever before” and that “money laundering using cryptocurrency is now the number one way for every organized crime group on the planet.” He explains that organized crime groups, particularly those in China, have amassed significant wealth, leading to the need to broaden their money laundering capabilities and engage with more people. This has resulted in crypto holders unknowingly becoming entangled with dangerous individuals.
Matt Hussey, former editorial director of Near Protocol, suggests that some of these killings may be driven by disgruntled investors seeking retribution for failed crypto investments. Hussey points out that the ambiguity surrounding crypto creates a space where law enforcement does not have a strong presence, making it easier for individuals to take matters into their own hands. As a result, revenge and retribution become the only recourse for some investors.
The murders of individuals connected to crypto are not limited to cases involving organized crime or disgruntled investors. In Seoul, a woman was abducted and murdered, with her assailants suspected of seeking revenge over a failed crypto investment scheme. Similarly, a self-proclaimed Canadian “crypto king” was kidnapped and beaten for three days by investors who believed they had been scammed. However, it is worth noting that not all these deaths are directly related to crypto, and three of them are not even being treated as potential homicides.
It is important to consider whether the increase in reported deaths is due to heightened mainstream media coverage of crypto. The collapse of crypto exchange FTX in November 2022 led to a surge in crypto-related stories in traditional media outlets. News desks have become more aware of cryptocurrencies, and any death connected to the crypto world is likely to grab attention and make headlines.
While it is difficult to determine the exact reasons behind these crypto-related deaths, it is clear that there are risks associated with the industry. Crypto holders may become targets for theft or attacks due to the perceived ease of stealing cryptocurrency. Additionally, the opaque nature of the industry can make it a breeding ground for illicit activities, including organized crime and money laundering.
As the crypto industry continues to grow and evolve, it is crucial for individuals to be aware of the potential dangers, safeguard their investments, and take precautions to protect themselves. Increased regulatory measures and law enforcement efforts may also be necessary to combat the rise in crypto-related crime.