Vietnam kidnappers receive life in prison for crypto theft

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In a dramatic conclusion to a cryptocurrency theft case in Vietnam, two men have been handed life sentences for stealing over VNĐ37 billion (approximately $1.5 million) worth of crypto in a heist that involved kidnapping and threatening to infect victims with HIV-laden needles.

Joining Hồ Ngọc Tài (34) and Trần Ngọc Hoàng (40) in their fate are 14 other defendants, who have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from nine to 19 years. Among them are two former police officers who have been given 17 years and 12 years behind bars, respectively.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court documents, the whole saga began back in 2018 when Tài, feeling optimistic and following some investment advice from Lê Đức Nguyên (35), sold 1,000 bitcoin worth over VNĐ100 billion ($4.3 million) to invest in other cryptocurrencies through international exchanges.

Unfortunately, Tài’s investments went south, leading him to believe that Nguyên had deceived him. Seeking recompense, Tài hatched an elaborate plan in May 2020 to steal Nguyên’s cryptocurrency.

Read more: How wire fraud, not securities violations, lands crypto criminals in prison

Vietnam kidnappers carry out plot to steal crypto

The scheme involved a group of 16 individuals. They used GPS trackers to monitor Nguyên’s every move, and on the fateful night of May 17, they executed their plan with precision. One member deliberately crashed his motorbike into Nguyên’s car on the highway.

As the victim was assessing the damage, the other members kidnapped him at gunpoint, shoving him into a waiting van.

To add to the sinister plot, the group coerced Nguyên’s wife and children into another van and waved around needles supposedly containing “fake HIV-infected blood.” The group of kidnappers threatened to infect Nguyên’s family with the virus unless he transferred 168 bitcoins, valued at VNĐ37.1 billion ($1.5 million), to Tài.

The court has ordered the defendants to jointly compensate the victim with a sum of VNĐ18.8 billion ($800,000).

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