Private firms start providing services for transaction support for crypto-investors

Private firms start providing services for transaction support for crypto-investors
Photo: TASS

More and more reports on thefts from buyers of bitcoins appear in the media last time. Thus, the idea of transaction support services has appeared.

While people are thinking whether to invest in bitcoin, private security companies started providing services for transaction support. In Moscow, firms are offering personal protection services for people who are going to sell or buy crypto-currency. The idea of this business appeared after reports on robbery on the street during exchange operations. Also, security guards are ready to provide help with investigation into crimes related to crypto-currency, as Russian laws do not cover crypto-currency relations and police are not willing to initiate proceeding regarding such cases.

Recently, Moscow police have detained a gang of robbers from Dagestan, they mainly attacked crypto-investors. In December 2017, 20 yo student from Moscow was kidnapped. The group of gangsters caught him near a metro station and, threatening with a knife, put in a car. The kidnapped gay turned out to be a holder of bitcoins for a total sum of hundreds of millions. The mobsters demanded 100 million rubles from him. However, the student managed to press the emergency button and call the police. Robbers disappeared.

More and more reports on thefts from buyers of bitcoins appear in media last time. This week, a Moscow resident was robbed during an exchange of crypto-currency. Mobsters pretending to be buyers stole a flash card with bitcoins for 10 million from the seller without paying him any money. They just took the flash card with force and disappeared.

Earlier, a resident of Nizhny Novgorod was also robbed for 800 thousand rubles the same way. Even pensioners willing to raise money on bitcoins fell victims to fraudsters. This is exactly what happened to a 79 yo resident of Volgograd.  

Most of the thefts were made during an exchange of crypto-currency. It is not profitable to buy bitcoins for a big sum at once, as the commission is high in this case. So, some crypto-investors buy bitcoins offline for cash. They meet with sellers of bitcoins, give them money and expect to receive bitcoins on their e-wallet or a flash card with crypto-currency. But sometimes they just find themselves robbed.

Thus, the idea of transaction support services has appeared.

“We have decided to offer these services due to the cases of robbery during crypto-transactions,” owner of a private security firm in Moscow Natalya Kurovskaya told Life media portal. “Moreover, some publicly announce how much crypto-currency they have on their wallets in order to inspire others to buy bitcoins. In this case, they need a guard to guarantee their security. The main goal of a guard is to detect a possible threat and neutralize it. Also, it is important to make conditions that will not allow a threat to appear.”

Journalists of Life have also talked to several security firms in Moscow. Representatives of these companies told they do provide services on transaction support but as personal security service.

The price of such services is not high – 1000 rubles for an hour – in a client’s car. The price can vary depending on a number of guards and cars used.

The Russian legislation does not allow providing services for protection of a person, so firms make a deal on protection of property that a person carries – a suitcase, gold cufflinks, or a USB flash drive.

As Kurovskaya says, the price of these services depends on terms and location of the deal.

“We provide our services in Russia and abroad. Crypto-currency is international. The price depends on the place of a deal. Also, it depends on the sum of the deal, as well. We take percentage.”

According to her, the agency's experts work with crypto-investors, who were already deceived by fraudsters or robbed by gangsters. Due to the lack of a legal base for crypto-currency in Russia, official security agencies often do not know how to investigate such crimes. For example, on February 23 in Moscow, the creator of the crypto-currency PRIZMA was kidnapped and forced to give 300 bitcoins, a laptop, $ 20,000 and three iPhones. The Interior Ministry did not even list the stolen bitcoins, considering that they cannot be attributed to property. Moreover, the victim cannot prove the worth of bitcoins was 160 million rubles.

Usually, private detectives and security companies investigate such cases.

“Once, robbers stole crypto-currency from a famous blogger,” Kurovskaya told. “He did not see the point of going to the police, as he was not sure the case would be initiated. Crypto-currency holders don’t have any possibility to defend their interests in court. Russian legislation does not have any definition of crypto-currency, while the Finance Ministry considers bitcoins and other crypto-currencies as surrogates of money. Probably, this is the reason, why crypto-investors do not see the point of contacting the police.”

According to her, the police initiates a criminal case only if some other property was stolen along with crypto-currency - cash, a purse, a mobile phone.

“Absence of crypto-currency regulation by law, lack of experience in investigation of such cases, and high growth rate of bitcoin – all this motivate robbers to specialize on crypto-currency,” Kurovskaya believes.

Police reports confirm her words. Last week, another seller of crypto-currency was robbed in a bank in the east of Moscow. The seller brought a flash drive with crypto-currency, which he planned to exchange for four million rubles. However, during the transaction, the buyer took out his weapon, grabbed the flash drive and ran out into the street. There was a car waiting for him.

April 15, fraudster Pavel after receiving bitcoins on his e-wallet refused to pay 20 thousand dollars to a 52 yo seller and disappeared.

In January, a group of students told someone about their intention to buy bitcoins. Soon, they were robbed while they were going in their car with 6.8 million rubles in the trunk. Pretending to be traffic police officers, the robbers took the young people out of the car, took their money and went away. It’s obvious that someone gave a tip to the robbers.

Not only occasional investors have fallen victims to fraudsters but experienced online traders as well. Dmitry Vasiliev, an owner of crypto-currency exchange, gave robbers 5.7 million rubles for the purchase of bitcoins.

The biggest theft in the last year occurred in cafe Batoni where a private entrepreneur specializing in microfinance lost 23.7 million rubles. He was going to buy bitcoins for this money.

A person familiar with the crypto-currency market advices not to trust strangers for your own safety, especially offline.

“There are a lot of online crypto-currency exchanges with thousands of users. You can exchange money directly through them - to pay in rubles or any other currency to buy bitcoins on the site. There is also an option to purchase crypto-currency through online exchangers, there are lots of them now. This is more risky, because you trust your money to creators of these exchangers. You split the sum and exchange it in parts for security reasons, so you will not spend a large sum at once.”

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