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High-Stakes Trial Underway in Vietnam for $1.5M Crypto Kidnapping and Robbery Case


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On May 10, the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City began the trial for a group of 16 individuals, including two former police officers, who were involved in the Crypto kidnapping and theft of 35 billion VND (~$1.5 million) in cryptocurrency. The case has captured the attention of the nation, as it highlights the growing challenges surrounding the regulation of digital currencies in Vietnam.

Story Behind the Crypto Kidnapping & Theft 

The primary suspects in the case, Ho Ngoc Tai and Tran Ngoc Hoang, orchestrated the kidnapping of Le Duc Nguyen after a failed cryptocurrency investment. In 2018, Tai sold around 1,000 Bitcoins, then valued at approximately 100 billion VND, to invest in other cryptocurrencies under Nguyen’s guidance. However, the investment turned out to be a massive failure, which led Tai to believe that Nguyen had swindled him. In an attempt to recover his losses, Tai assembled a team to plan a crypto robbery in May 2020.

The group, which included former law enforcement officers, carefully tracked Nguyen’s movements using GPS devices installed on his car. They also obtained a van and purchased realistic BB guns to intimidate their target. On the night of the robbery, one of the accomplices intentionally collided with Nguyen’s car using a motorbike. When Nguyen exited his vehicle to assess the damage, the gang kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him into their van.

With Nguyen in their custody, the gang demanded that his brother transfer the original amount of 1,000 Bitcoins to Tai’s account. Upon discovering that the brother did not possess the required amount, Tai seized Nguyen’s mobile phone and transferred about 35 billion VND worth of cryptocurrency to himself. The gang eventually abandoned the victim in the city of Thu Duc.

This high-profile case comes as crypto-related crimes are on the rise in the region. Last month, Indian police arrested three individuals, including a married couple, for staging a fake robbery at their home in an attempt to gather information about a friend’s multi-million-dollar cryptocurrency investment portfolio.

Continuous Rise in Cryptocurrency Adoption in Vietnam

Despite the risks, cryptocurrency adoption continues to surge in Vietnam. The Vietnam Crypto Market Report 2022 indicates that nearly 17 million Vietnamese residents own cryptocurrencies, making the country second only to Thailand in terms of crypto adoption among ASEAN nations. One in five Vietnamese citizens reportedly holds digital currencies, and the nation is currently home to 200 active blockchain projects.

The growth of Vietnam’s crypto market can be attributed to several factors, such as low taxation on digital currencies, limited access to traditional financial services, and the need for inflation protection. For instance, the popular fantasy game Axie Infinity has its headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City. However, the recent collapse of the FTX exchange has led to significant losses for many local crypto investors.

As the trial for the $1.5 million crypto kidnapping and robbery case continues, it serves as a stark reminder of the potential risks and challenges associated with the rapidly evolving world of digital currencies. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the future of cryptocurrency regulation and crime prevention in Vietnam.

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