Bitcoin Demand by South African Kidnappers

The world is a strange place and stranger things keep happening every day. Who would have thought half a decade ago that a gang of kidnappers would ask for Bitcoins as their ransom demand? However, it has indeed happened.

A gang that kidnapped a South African teenager from a playground on the weekend have made a ransom demand in bitcoin worth about $123,000, police have reported.

The 13-year-old boy from the town of Witbank in the eastern province of Mpumalanga was abducted while he was playing with two friends near his home. Witnesses said a Toyota Corolla pulled up nearby and the teenager was dragged in and driven away.

The police spokesman Leonard Hlathi gave a statement on Tuesday:

“We are investigating a case of kidnapping that happened on Sunday in Witbank. There was a demand that was made that the parents should deposit cash in bitcoins.”

Local media claim that the ransom note was left at the scene. “This is a kidnapping… We demand ransom of 15 bitcoins to be paid into the below bitcoin wallet address to secure your child’s safe release – non-negotiable,” the note allegedly read. 

The first deadline for payment of part of the ransom was on Monday night but it wasn’t met. The note contained a death threat towards the teenager if the demands of the kidnappers were not met. A police official said that the boy’s parents were “going through trauma”.

He further said, “They don’t even know what this bitcoin is. They’re devastated and you can see they’re worried and asking themselves: ‘Where’s our son?”

The boy’s mother made an emotional appeal to the kidnappers on Tuesday, pleading to “bring back [her] son”.

This is the first case where a ransom demand has been made for a cryptocurrency in the country.