Bitcoin millionaire Aarni Otava Saarimaa, 22 years old, has lost over 5,564 BTC (worth an estimated USD 35 Million) in a Thai crypto scam. The Finnish businessman was approached in June 2017 by the hackers.
A sophisticated scam
Reported in the Bangkok Post, the Finnish bitcoin millionaire Aarni Otava Saarimaa lost over 5,564 BTC, sending them to fraudsters in Thailand. He believed he was investing in Dragon Coin, as well as a casino.
Many of the case details remain unknown. The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has frozen over 51 accounts in connection with the fraud. Nine people have been arrested, who received the funds, converted it to legacy fiat, and invested in land. Several plots of land have also been seized. As per the Bangkok Post –
“According to the Crime Suppression Division’s (CSD) investigation, the Finnish businessman has lost almost 800 million baht worth of bitcoin to the gang in a fraudulent investment scheme that the CSD has been gathering evidence on for the last six months.”
When no returns on the investments were seen, Chonnikan Kaeosali, the business partner of Saarimaa, filed a complaint with the CSD. It should be noted that this is not a basic scam where Saarimaa simply sent $35 million in BTC to an address. It was sophisticated, and Saarimaa was at one point brought to a casino, to convince him that Dragon Coin would be used there. To add even more mystery to an elaborate crime plot, the syndicate was run by a local movie star.
Case complications for the bitcoin millionaire
The case has been ongoing for several months, and it is surprising that the CSD was able to trace the hack. It took a long time to get approval for the search warrants. Officials have stated that the case was complicated because funds transferred on the blockchain are semi-anonymous –
“The scam is one of the most challenging cases the CSD has investigated as it involves financial crime in relation to digital assets which are gaining popularity as a tool for exchange and trade…This case is complicated. We had to carefully examine documents and trace the money trail.”
Bitcoin is one of the easier coins to track, and studies have shown that it is traceable with the right tools, and does not even require significant levels of sophistication. Other privacy-related coins, such as Dash, Monero, and zCash, are far more difficult to trace. While many people will turn to these coins to avoid government censorship, if they are stolen, there will be little the authorities can do to help.
Digital Nomad with an interest in Zen and Blockchain technology.
Law graduate with 3 years experience as a consultant in the capital markets industry and 4 years experience freelancing on UpWork as a Creative Writer.