The National Police in Madrid have been investigating claims of robbery and attempted kidnapping after a citizen reported that he had been tortured for his bitcoin private keys.
The events allegedly took place on Oct 9 at Zaryn Dentzel’s apartment, located on Calle de Ruiz de Alarcon, a main street in the capital of Madrid. Dentzel answered the doorbell because he was expecting someone but instead was overtaken by multiple hooded men who obscured the security cameras and then attacked him and the person with him.
They were threatened and beaten repeatedly until Dentzel divulged critical information relating to his cryptocurrency wallet passwords and bank accounts. Dentzel had invested in bitcoin for many years and supposedly amassed holdings worth millions of euros. Dentzel mostly grew his wealth by cofounding Tuenti, a popular Spanish social network.
The porter at the gatehouse said that he did not see anybody suspicious enter or leave. The National Police in Madrid has confirmed that no suspects have been detained, though they suspect it may have been the work of a gang of criminals from Eastern Europe.
The report stated that although the thieves “reportedly made off with devices including laptops, phones, and a USB drive,” they were unsuccessful in stealing any of his cryptocurrency.
Real-life crypto crimes a rising concern
Real-life crypto attacks are not as rare as some might think. Two incidents of note took place in England in 2021. A student at Canterbury Christ Church University was robbed of £6,000 ($8,098) worth of bitcoin at knifepoint in an incident similar to Dentzel’s alleged attack, where not four but eight thugs invaded his dormitory. The criminals demanded passwords to the student’s financial applications and forced him to transfer £6000 worth of bitcoin, in addition, to study grant money. In Langley, a 24-year-old was recently arrested for stealing a bitcoin ATM from a business.
Earlier this year, a cryptocurrency trader in Hong Kong was sprayed in his eyes with a foreign substance and robbed of HK$2M en route to buying bitcoin. In a separate Hong Kong incident, a 39-year-old cryptocurrency trader was robbed of more than $128,500 at knifepoint en route to meeting a bitcoin seller.