Bitcoin is one of those cryptocurrencies whose value has rapidly increased making it a lucrative target for cybercriminals and hackers. That is the reason we often read about scams including malware, phishing or malicious apps aiming at cryptocurrency exchanges and investors.
On December 26th, 2017, Russian blockchain expert Pavel Lerner, one of the employees at Exmo cryptocurrency was kidnapped in Kiev, Ukraine after a group of men in balaclavas dragged him into a black Mercedes-Benz when Lerner left for work.
The incident was first reported by Ukranian and Russian media. The police, on the other hand, has also confirmed the incident but declined to share the victim’s identity citing that the case is under investigation.
Exmo Finance which is a United Kingdom-based cryptocurrency exchange with operations in India, Russia, Spain, Thailand, Lithuania, Singapore and the United States told RT.
“Any information regarding his whereabouts is very much appreciated. Despite the situation, the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that nature of Pavel’s job at EXMO doesn’t assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users funds are absolutely safe”
On December 28th, 2017, that is two days after Lerner’s kidnapping, EXMO tweeted that its servers are under DDoS attack, as a result, its website suffered an outage. “EXMO is under the DDoS attack. The site will be available within half an hour. We apologize for the temporary inconvenience. Sincerely, The EXMO Team.”
EXMO is under the DDoS attack.
The site will be available within half an hour.
We apologize for the temporary inconvenience.
Sincerely, The EXMO Team
— EXMO (@Exmo_Com) December 28, 2017
The company did not provide any further information about the cyber attack, however, its customers used Twitter to show their anger and complaint about poor support, slow service and not returning their funds.
Not the first kidnapping
Although it is unclear whether Lerner’s kidnapping is related to his job and the fact that he analyzes a multi-billion industry or whether it was a result of some personal grudges; this is not the first time when the terms cryptocurrency and kidnapping have been used altogether.
A couple of weeks ago, a man in New York was kidnapped, held at gunpoint and asked for the 24-word secret passphrase for his Ethereum (Bitcoin rival) cryptocurrency. As a result, $1.8 million worth of Ethereum belonging to the victim were stolen.
Pavel Lerner has been freed after paying a million-dollar ransom to the kidnappers. However, it is still unclear who were the culprits and who paid the ransom. Lerner, on the other hand, did not comment on the issue but EXMO told media that Lerner is in “deep stress.”
“We would like to note that the situation on Pavel’s abduction has been overgrown with rumors that might harm the investigation. Considering the current situation, EXMO will be refraining from comment and from publishing its version of events in the near future.”