Recently, law enforcement authorities successfully rescued a kidnapped woman in São Paulo, Brazil. The criminals who kidnapped the woman demanded bitcoins and another form of cryptocurrency from the victim’s husband.
A 32-year-old woman was rescued from the hands of criminals by the Civil Police in São Paulo, Brazil at the end of April. The victim, who is married to a bitcoin businessman was kidnapped in Florianopolis on April 26. According to the local media outlet Diário Catarinense, the criminals demanded a ransom from the husband in the form of bitcoins and in another unnamed cryptocurrency. According to the police information, the kidnappers approached the victim after she dropped her daughter off at the school, which was 50 meters away from the woman’s home. The criminals pushed the victim inside of their car and drove away. While the criminals were on their way inside the city, with the kidnapped woman, they contacted the victim’s husband demanding the ransom in cryptocurrencies. They sent the man a video of the woman saying that she was kidnapped and telling the man that she didn’t know where she was.
“Early on in the investigation, I spoke with a few colleagues from all over Brazil and there was never a kidnap attempt in which a payment in virtual currency was demanded. This is unprecedented in Brazil. The main goal was to expedite the transaction, but that wasn’t possible,” Anselmo Cruz, the officer in charge of the investigations at the State Department of Criminal Investigations (DEIC – Departamento De Investigações Sobre Crime in Portuguese), said in a statement. According to Cruz, this is the first instance when criminals in a kidnapping plot demanded bitcoins or any other forms of cryptocurrencies in such cases in Brazil. The officer added that access to bitcoin would be given by the victim’s husband.
After the criminals contacted the husband of the victim, he immediately alerted law enforcement authorities. The police started negotiating with the perpetrators, who demanded “large amounts” of the cryptocurrency from the husband, in an attempt to delay paying the ransom. During the negotiating attempts, the husband told the criminals that bitcoin’s trading volume in the country wasn’t large enough for him to have the demanded amount available.
Since bitcoin, along with most of the cryptocurrencies, is very difficult to trace even for highly-trained law enforcement authorities or agencies, the Civil Police in Brazil had a hard time tracking down the criminals. When the kidnappers sent an address to the husband where to send the demanded cryptocurrencies, law enforcement authorities were able to determine the location of the criminals. After the police were able to locate the criminals, they raided the location and rescued the woman during the negotiations.
“It was a very difficult operation, but we managed to free the person. She isn’t injured,” Officer Raphael Werling, who participated in the operation, said.
According to the police, the victim was handpicked, and there were at least six people involved in the crime. So far, only one of them has been arrested. The investigation is ongoing.
“They thought they would have a very large facility for the ransom paid in virtual currency.” From there, there was a negotiation between the victim with the kidnappers, and in this interval, the division was able to locate the victim,” Cruz said in a statement.
The husband told the local news agencies that he was relieved that law enforcement authorities were able to rescue his wife. Their daughter turned six on April 29, and, according to the husband, having her mother back was the best birthday gift she could ever get.