There are increasing cases of cryptocurrency extortion in the business districts of the British capital. Thieves use physical threats to get hold of passersby’s phones and transfer the cryptocurrencies stored on them to their own wallets.
Attacks that steal tens of thousands of books
It’s a brand new modus operandi, now circulating on the streets of the City of London, where your iPhone is no longer stolen, but your passwords are targeted by robbers. That reports the British newspaper The Guardian, citing a police report in the famous business district. He talks about a wave of “cryptographic attacks”.
The modus operandi is simple: Thieves physically attack passers-by in the financial center of the British capital, where six-figure salaries are the norm. Attackers force their victims to unlock their phones, access victims’ digital wallets and transfer their cryptocurrency to their own “wallet”. In total, according to The Guardian, thousands of euros worth of crypto assets would be stolen.
Some have lost more than 27,000 pounds, or around 35,000 euros. One victim testified that she lost £5,000 or €5,900 when she tried to order an Uber. The attacker allegedly stole his phone, emptied his Coinbase wallet, before returning his phone. Yet another man was found to have been robbed of £6,000 or €7,000 during one of the raids. When he agreed to follow a group of people who offered him cocaine, they pressed him against a wall and forced him to unlock his phone using facial recognition.
Bad public habits involved
British police say the wave of “crypto attacks” sweeping through London is largely due to the irreversibility of cryptocurrency transfers and the recklessness of many Londoners. In an effort to tackle these crimes, London police are seeking more encryption and cybercrime training to combat these threats.
“If I get robbed and they force me to make a wire transfer, the bank can trace where the money went and there are several ways to reverse the transaction. But once the money is transferred from one cryptocurrency wallet to another, there is no turning back,” said David Gerard, author of the book Attack on the 50 Foot Blockchain.
For Phil Aris, the cryptocurrency team leader of the Cybercrime Program of the National Council of Chiefs of Police, there is an urgent need to train police officers while educating the public about the risks of opening our crypto accounts and our crypto accounts on the street. Cryptocurrency holders should be careful as the amount of stolen or potentially stolen money is very large.
One of the issues posed by these new attacks and thefts is the security and accessibility of crypto wallets on mobile phones. ‘You don’t walk down the street and count a pile of 50 pound bills. Crypto assets should follow the same logic,” concluded Phil Aris, director of the cryptocurrency team at the Cybercrime Program of the National Commission of Chiefs of Police.
These new forms of theft pose a major challenge for the police, but they must be able to count on the help of crypto users. They are being asked to reduce their use of their crypto wallets or outdoor trading platforms to minimize their exposure.
Cryptocurrencies are becoming more common and attract thieves, either through hacking or, now, physical attacks. The solution may lie in the impossibility for his telephone to access the amounts. As with coercion and pain, all advanced security measures are useless. For example, physical wallets can be a solution to prevent these thefts.