Criminals in Sweden are specifically targeting prominent local Bitcoin figures, which appears to be the result of the ease of access to personal information and residential addresses in the country.
Reports from Swedish media outlets LT and Aftonbladet have linked separate robberies in Rönninge and Södertälje that appear to have occurred under the same modus operandi. Victims were tied up and physically abused to steal physical and virtual Bitcoin (BTC) holdings.
Prominent cryptocurrency proponent Eric Wall, who currently serves as a StarkNet Foundation board member, highlighted the incidents in an X post (formerly Twitter). Wall said the two assault cases indicate that Swedish criminals are actively looking to target Bitcoin users.
there's now officially a situation in sweden— Eric Wall (@ercwl) November 8, 2023
this monday, a middle-aged swedish couple was tied up in their home and robbed by 4 masked men. they were physically abused and threatened with their own kitchen knives. they were tied up for hours and one had to be escorted to the…
“This Monday, a middle-aged Swedish couple was tied up in their home and robbed by 4 masked men. They were physically abused and threatened with their own kitchen knives. They were tied up for hours and one had to be escorted to the hospital via helicopter,” Wall wrote.
He noted that the purpose of the assault was to steal the couple’s Bitcoin before highlighting the link to a separate incident where “two well-known Bitcoin/crypto profiles were targeted in their homes by masked, armed men.”
According to Wall, the victims were subjected to violent physical abuse for hours in an effort to steal their Bitcoin holdings held in hardware wallets. He added that the first incident of criminals targeting Bitcoin users took place in 2022, when “one of Sweden’s most well-known Bitcoiners” had their apartment broken into.
Wall also believes criminals scour social media to identify and target Bitcoin or cryptocurrency users. He claims that a common theme of the attacks was that they took place shortly after individuals had livestreamed podcasts focused on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies or mentioned the subject in public.
He also believes that Sweden’s Offentlighetsprincipen (Principle of Public Access to Information) laws, which give the public the right to request information, including residential addresses and tax records from the government, are becoming a means for criminals to prey on ecosystem participants.
“While the intention behind this legislation was to reduce corruption, it is not fit for modern society.”
Wall added that he left the country due to these laws and that Sweden “is probably one of the least safe countries to be active in the cryptocurrency sector.”
The Offentlighetsprincipen law also reportedly makes it easy for citizens to search for Swedish residents’ addresses as well as scour their tax records. This is being abused, as criminals can ascertain how much an individual has paid in income or capital gains tax and “size them up” as a result.
Cointelegraph has reached out to the Swedish Police Authority to ascertain further details of these incidents and if any arrests have been made.