Private security firms in Moscow are offering a new service – protection for people buying and selling cryptocurrency for cash. The companies have also expressed readiness to help investigate crypto-related crimes. Police are still reluctant to work on such cases, as cryptocurrencies are not yet regulated in Russia.
Bitcoin Worth Millions Snatched By Crypto Crooks
Several security companies in the Russian capital are now offering protection services to people trading crytocurrencies offline. Deals often take place right on the street and involve crypto transactions through mobile or hard wallets and cash transfers. Virtual and fiat funds are often lost by a crypto user falling victim to modern day criminals.
A growing number of cases of cryptocurrency-related fraud and theft have been reported by Russian media in the past few months. While police are still reluctant to work on these cases, as cryptocurrencies are not yet regulated in Russia, their colleagues from the private sector have expressed readiness to help with the investigations.
Recently, police in Moscow arrested members of an organized criminal group from Dagestan, who have carried out attacks on crypto investors, the online outlet Lifereported. In December, an attack on a 20-year-old student owning cryptocurrency worth millions of rubles became a media sensation. The young man was kidnaped at a subway station. Threatening him with a knife, the attackers took him to his home where they asked for 100 million rubles ($1.6 million) in cryptocurrency.
Several days ago, another Moscovite was robbed of 10 million rubles worth of bitcoin ($160,000). In broad daylight he tried to seal a deal with a “buyer” who took his hard wallet and sped off without paying any cash for the cryptos. A week before that, a resident of Nizhny Novgorod lost 800,000 rubles in cryptocurrency ($13,000) under pretty much the same circumstances. Not long ago, a senior citizen in Volgograd was also robbed by crypto crooks.
The criminal statistics in Russia are full of similar cases. Most of these crimes have been committed during crypto-fiat exchange deals on the street. Many Russians are tempted by these direct sales because online trading platforms take hefty commissions. Usually they involve cash payments and crypto transfers.
Rates Starting at Just $15 per Hour
The increasing number of thefts and frauds related to offline crypto deals has created a need for a new type of security escort service. Several companies in Moscow are already offering it to crypto buyers and sellers. Rates start at just 1,000 rubles per hour, about $15 USD, but prices go up if the client wants to rent a company car or hire more guards.
Russian law imposes restrictions on personal guard services, and the firms prefer to sign contracts for property protection. A suitcase with cash and a hard wallet with cryptocurrency fall within this category.
“The cost of our services depends on the amount of the transaction – we are charging a percentage. We also offer services abroad, as cryptocurrency is an international phenomenon,” said Natalia Kurovskaya, owner of one of the Moscow-based security firms.
Kurovskaya added that her company also works with crypto investors who have been robbed or defrauded by criminals. In her words, government law enforcement agencies don’t know how to investigate such crimes, as there is no legislation regulating the crypto sector yet.
In February, the founder of the Prizma coin was kidnapped in Moscow. His attackers took 300 bitcoins from him, along with $20,000, a notebook, and three mobile phones. Russian police, however, did not include the cryptos in the list of the stolen items.