(By Tim Suereth) In one of the first digital currency crimes in UK history, a couple living near Oxford England were robbed at gunpoint in a barn being used as a Bitcoin brokerage business.
Four masked intruders kicked down the doors in a converted residential barn of a young couple and their infant child last week in an early morning raid on the property. The gunmen held the family hostage, beat the father over the head and demanded that he transfer his bitcoins into the crooks anonymous cryptocurrency account. The thieves got away with an undisclosed amount of digital currency and the cops have no solid clues as to who committed the crime.
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have become extremely popular ways to transfer money and transact business anonymously around the world, outside of a centralized government banking system. Many nations are fighting the trend in an effort to stabilize their own currencies, and banking system – which cryptocurrencies threaten, but the United Kingdom aspires to be the global hub of the international cryptocurrency industry and it is setting the stage to dominate the financial sector by outlawing any competition – and creating its own digital currency.
The Bank of England announced last year that it had produced a theoretical currency called RSCoin which could be used by central banks. The BOE is interested in becoming one of the first in the world to offer its own central bank backed cryptocurrency, even as most other banks in the UK have instituted policies that precludes them from opening an account associated with cryptocurrency activities. Barclays is one of only a few British banks that have opened accounts for clients in the cryptocurrency sector, while most Bitcoin type businesses have been forced to find sanctuary in more amenable banking locations, such as Gibraltar, Bulgaria and Poland.
James Godfrey from BlockEx, a platform for trading cryptocurrencies, said, “Nobody will give us a bank account in the UK. Metro Bank recently shut our UK account, forcing us to rely on a Bulgarian lender to keep trading.”
Michael Hudson, the chief executive of a bitcoin investment firm confirmed the difficulty in getting a UK bank account. He said: “It is almost an impossibility to get a UK bank account. We bank in Gibraltar and Poland — the two jurisdictions that are most stable. We had an account in Bulgaria but that didn’t last long.”
It is getting increasingly more difficult to become a cryptocurrency trader anywhere in the world, and American banks won’t be banking on Bitcoin anytime soon. Chase bank CEO Jamie Dimon believes that governments around the world will “crush” bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, while Larry Fink, from Blackrock, has compared the price of Bitcoin to an “index of money laundering.”
In the largest known Bitcoin hacker heist, a Japanese exchange recently reported that it lost $534 million that it cannot trace, or replace back into customer accounts. Many industry experts are whispering about the possibility that it was an inside job. It will be next to impossible to ever find out where the money went, which is why proper safeguards must be put in place to protect people who trade in digital currencies.
Although money laundering and tax avoidance are regularly regarded as the main reasons to restrict or regulate cryptocurrencies, the most compelling reason could now be due to the new revelation that anyone who holds a bitcoin account is vulnerable to a hack, or violent attack to make an account holder transfer their digital currency.