In a recent series of events straight out of a crime thriller, a kidnapping case with Bitcoin as ransom has evolved into something much darker and more sinister than what was expected. In what was thought to be a ransom swap in Thailand, it turned out that a close friend of the kidnapped was the actual culprit.
The escapade started on January 9 when Mark Cheng Jin and Lee Wei Kim landed in Thailand to negotiate some business deals with the locals. To reach their destination, both of them took a cab from the airport and later stopped at a petrol station in the Chachoengsao province.
It was here that masked assailants ambushed the two and beat them black and blue. Both men were then hustled into a blacked-out SUV and taken to the Kabin Buri district of Prachinburi province. Cheng reported that the assailants took him to multiple close quarter locations and demanded a ransom of $1 million. He pleaded that he only had $62,000 in Bitcoin with him and that was all he could manage.
According to official reports from the police, Cheng was also shown a gun to his head which he successfully defended and then later fled. At this point, he had no whereabouts of his colleague and was planning to report his missing at the nearest station. Cheng was picked up by passers-by and was driven down to the Ongkharak Police Station where he filed the case.
Once the police complaint was lodged, the Thai police launched a manhunt for the absconding Singapore citizen. Lee was later found in a Bangkok hotel where he confessed to plotting the entire scam to loot the BTC haul. Lee was found with 1.4 million Thai Baht all paid in BTC and was charged with robbery, illegal detention, assault, and illegal firearms possession.
The net spread further than expected as the car used for the kidnapping belonged to a popular soap star from Thailand. Cheng, who himself has been embroiled with the law earlier was shocked at finding out that his colleague was the culprit. He said:
“I did not expect my friend to be involved. I really dont know who I can trust now.
Cheng, despite being the victim here has been under police scanners for some time now. He was charged in Singapore last year with dishonest misappropriation of over $300,000 from an investment company in 2014.