Crypto Analyst Released After Alleged $1 Million Ransom in Bitcoin

By William Peaster Dec 29, 2017 8:43 PM EST

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The kidnapping of Pavel Lerner, analyst with U.K.-based cryptocurrency exchange EXMO, shocked the crypto ecosystem days ago. Now, Lerner has been released after paying $1 million USD in bitcoins for his freedom, per the Financial Times. And the target on Bitcoiners’ backs is seemingly only set to grow in the years ahead.

Also read: Belarus Legalizes Cryptocurrency – Is It for Real?

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Lerner: ‘In a State of Shock’

Lerner, who is involved in numerous projects in the cryptocurrency space, was kidnapped on December 26th by a group of masked, balaclava-clad men who dragged Lerner into a getaway car as he departed EXMO Finance’s Ukrainian headquarters in Kiev.

Lerner was apparently a target in being an analyst for a cryptocurrency exchange, as his kidnappers may have mistakenly presumed he had access to EXMO’s cold or hot wallets — access that EXMO has since clarified Lerner didn’t have.

Regardless, the attackers appear to have gotten at least a slice of what they were after, as Ukrainian adviser Anton Gerashchenko told Financial Times there’s “operative information that [Lerner] paid more than $1 million worth of bitcoins.”

Lerner’s LinkedIn profile.

In an update sent to Bitsonline, an EXMO spokesperson noted that details are still scarce for now and no further official comments will be made for the time being:

“On December 26, Pavel was captured by a group of unknown masked people, and all the connection with him ceased for several days. On December 29, we managed to get a hold of Pavel. At the moment, he is safe, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him. Nevertheless, Pavel is currently in a state of major stress, therefore, he will not provide any official comments in the coming days.

The case is currently under investigation of the state security authorities.

We would like to note that the story of Pavel’s abduction has overgrown with rumors that might tamper with the official investigation. That said, EXMO currently refrains from any comments or suggestions of own versions of the possible scenario, until the end of the investigation.”

To that end, Bitsonline has reached out to EXMO for an independent confirmation of the ransom payment but has yet to receive a response at press time.

When It Comes to Crypto, It’s Time for OpSec

The massive gains the crypto space has seen in 2017 has put these surging prices at the fore of many peoples’ minds, including criminals. Pavel Lerner’s terrible episode is a stark reminder of this dynamic.

That’s where OpSec, or “operational security” as the United States’ military puts it, comes in. OpSec is just the idea that “loose lips sink ships,” and you have to start bringing this mindset to your crypto investments if you’re going to be safe going forward.

Now, Lerner couldn’t have done much differently. He’s a cryptocurrency executive and analyst and his LinkedIn page notes that; yet for the rest of us, an emphasis on discretion will go a long way.

Never telegraph exactly how many bitcoins or ether you have, either online or in person. Except for loved ones that you can absolutely trust, it’s best to keep relatively mum on your cryptocurrency investment journey. You may have what seems like a trivial amount now, but in five years, your investments may not be so trivial.

And that reality could come back to bite you in the worst ways possible if you’ve made it loud and clear that you’ve made crypto wealth for yourself in the time between now and then.

What’s your take? Do you keep your

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