Cryptocurrency is slowly growing to be a popular investment option for many users around the world. While it brings a decentralised approach to investments, its unregulated structure is also making crypto the latest target for criminals with technical know-how. As per a report by The Guardian, the City of London Police have warned of a new wave of “crypto muggings” across the English capital, as victims have reported thousands of pounds being stolen from the accounts after their smartphones were seized.
As per the report, a victim was forced by muggers to hand over the phone near the Liverpool Street station in central London. The phone was eventually handed back to the victim, who later realised Ethereum worth £5,000 was missing from his Coinbase account. Coinbase is a global crypto exchange platform.
Another victim reported a theft of £28,700, including cryptocurrency, from his accounts after a mugger forced him to unlock his phone using his fingerprint and then changed his security settings.
In another incident, a victim reported that he was approached by a group of people offering to sell him cocaine, and asked him to follow them into an alley to carry out the deal. After offering to type in a number into his phone, the gang forced him to unlock the phone using facial recognition and transferred Ripple coins worth £6,000.
Muggers also appear to track intended targets, as a victim reportedly told the police that after his cards and phone was pickpocketed following a visit to a pub, an amount of £10,000 was stolen from his Crypto.com account. The victim said that he was using his phone while in the pub, and believes that the thieves saw him type in his account pin.
Most of the mugging incidents were reported in the second half of 2021 in London’s financial district.
Chainalysis Chief Technical Officer Gurvais Grigg told The Guardian that all crypto transactions are logged on the blockchain, which, in theory, can allow the police to track down movements of digital currency. Chainalysis is a global platform that provides blockchain data and analysis to governments, banks, and businesses.