The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court ruled that the Vietnamese residents – Ho Ngoc Tai and Tran Ngoc Hoang – will spend their lives in prison for kidnapping an individual and stealing $1.5 million worth of bitcoin from him.
14 other people who also took part in the crime received sentences between 9 and 19 years.
The 34-year-old Tai and the 40-year-old Hoang were slammed with life imprisonment for orchestrating a sophisticated kidnapping and later draining $1.5 million in BTC from the victim.
According to local law, digital assets are illegal in Vietnam, meaning individuals or businesses can not accept them as a currency or a means of payment. Nonetheless, the defendants managed to convert the stolen BTC to VND18.8 billion (approximately $800,000). The court ruled that the criminals should compensate the victim with that amount.
Tai and Hoang were not the only people behind the affair. They were supported by 14 other associates, who will go to prison, too. However, none of them will stay behind bars for life, with sentences varying from 9 to 19 years.
It is interesting to note that two of them – Nguyen Quoc Dung and Nguyen Anh Tuan – served as police officers a few years back. The former was sentenced to 17 years, while the latter will stay in a correctional facility for 12 years.
Retrospection of the Crime
As CryptoPotato reported last week, the saga started five years ago when Le Duc Nguyen advised Ho Ndoc Tai to sell 1,000 BTC (equivalent to over $4 million at the time) so he could buy other digital assets. The investment, though, did not turn profitable, and Tai suggested he had become a victim of a fraudulent scheme.
He assembled a gang in an attempt to retrieve his funds, using sophisticated methods to track Nguyen’s location. The team also hired a van, purchased weapons, and kidnapped the target at gunpoint.
The criminals ordered the victim’s brother to transfer the original amount of 1,000 BTC to Tai’s wallet, but he could not provide the entire amount. Once restoring $1.5 million in bitcoin, they abandoned the man in the city of Thu Duc: not far from Ho Chi Minh City.
The Vietnamese police, though, were quick to detect the crime and detained the 16 suspects. While Tai initially admitted to running the operation, he later reversed his confession. On the other hand, his associates said they thought they would only collect the debt from the victim and not participate in a kidnapping.