Thieves are targeting digital currency investors in a wave of “crypto muggings,” UK police said, with victims reporting big sums stolen after their mobile phones were seized, the Guardian reported today.
Criminals are combining muscle with knowhow to part people from their cryptocurrency, according to City of London police. Crypto transfers are irreversible, unlike bank transfers, making the crime attractive to thieves.
One victim was ordering an Uber when muggers forced him to hand over his phone. The gang returned the phone, and the victim later realized that £5,000 ($6,170) of ethereum was missing from his account with the crypto investing platform Coinbase.
In another case, a victim told police his phone was pickpocketed after an evening at a pub, with £10,000 later stolen from an account with investing platform Crypto.com. The victim was using his phone in the pub and figured that thieves saw him type in his account pin.
A third victim said he had been vomiting under a bridge when a mugger forced him to unlock his phone using a fingerprint, then changed his security settings and stole £28,700, including cryptocurrency.
Phil Ariss, who leads the cryptocurrency team for the National Police Chiefs’ Council cybercrime program, said more training was being given to police officers on a variety of crypto-related crimes, and that they were also looking at ways to inform the public about the need to be cautious when accessing a crypto account.
“You wouldn’t walk down the street holding £50 notes and counting them. That should apply to people with crypto assets,” he said.