The wife of a wealthy Norwegian businessman has been kidnapped, and those responsible are reportedly asking for the 9million EUR (10 million USD) ransom to be paid in privacy coin Monero (XMR).
According to local newspaper VG, 68-year old Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, the wife of Norwegian businessman Tom Hagen, has been missing for ten weeks, since October 31st of last year.
Police have so far kept the investigation into her disappearance under wraps according to VG, because threats were made regarding the involvement of the police and media. The report also explains that Norwegian police have widened the investigation to include Interpol and Europol.
Tom Hagen has an estimated net worth of 1.7 billion NOK (c. 200m USD), and is ranked 172 on Norway’s rich list.
Bitcoin vs. Monero
The kidnappers' choice of Monero, a privacy coin which makes it very hard to trace transactions, may well signal a shift towards more anonymous forms of cryptocurrency crime, although bitcoin (a pseudonymous cryptocurrency) still seems to figure prominently in ransom demands.
This week saw kidnappers in South Africa demand 5 BTC (c. $20,000) for the release of a missing nine-year-old girl. Earlier in the month, a group of hackers calling themselves TheDarkOverlord demanded a ransom in bitcoin after claiming to have hacked a law firm handling insurance claims related to the September 11th attacks.
Interestingly, some have pointed out that the choice of Monero might in this case actually help law enforcement due to the fact that the $10m demanded represents around 1% of XMR’s market cap:
Considering the massive size of this transaction compared to the XMR economy, and the fact that the funds will have to enter from outside of the XMR market, I’m not sure this can be hidden as well as they think— Udi Wertheimer [Bitcoin Noob] (@udiWertheimer) January 9, 2019