Police in Japan’s capital have arrested four “boys” after they allegedly beat a man in an attempt to steal ¥100 million JPY (~$900,000 USD) in bitcoin. The attack happened in a room at the luxury ANA Intercontinental Hotel in Tokyo’s central Akasaka district.
According to the Mainichi Shimbun, four youths aged 18 and 19 attacked a 26 year-old cryptocurrency trading company employee in an attempted robbery on Friday afternoon. While the newspaper report was scant on details, it appears the man may have gone to the hotel room with the intention of trading digital currency.
The four punched the victim in the face and demanded he hand over the bitcoins, trying to snatch away the mobile phone he was using. However the trader managed to escape from the room and call the police emergency number.
The four suspects were from Fukuoka Prefecture in the country’s far south-west. Under Japanese law, anyone aged under 20 is considered a juvenile. Police said everyone in the arrested group was remaining silent.
Akasaka is one of Tokyo’s more upscale business and diplomatic districts. The centrally-located neighborhood is home to several government agencies, diplomatic missions and five-star hotels for business travelers.
With the prices of bitcoin and nearly all digital assets rising dramatically over the past months, the stakes for holding and trading are much higher. Less traceable cryptocurrencies — and the desire to trade off-exchange — present an attractive target for organized crime gangs.
Japan’s newly-licensed cryptocurrency exchanges have recently begun enforcing extra KYC and AML (identity and anti-money laundering) regulations. Those who do not answer detailed questions about their income, identity and trading activities have found their accounts suspended and balances frozen.
The new requirements are likely fueling demand for more OTC (or off-exchange) trading in Japan, as wealthy holders attempt to discreetly trade large quantities of cryptocurrency for fiat.
Do you think robberies and other violent crimes against cryptocurrency holders will increase in the future? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Images via ANA Intercontinental, Pinterest