Venezuelan police are looking for a 23-year-old scammer who allegedly stole $1.15 million in Bitcoin (BTC) from his clients’ accounts after faking his own kidnapping.
Douglas Rico, the director of Venezuela’s Scientific, Criminal, and Criminal Investigations Corps (CICPC), made a statement on August 29th claiming that Andrés Jess Dos Santos Hernández, 23, was wanted by the country’s main national police agency on suspicion of money laundering and fraud.
Authorities believe Hernadnez engineered the kidnapping, as his clients’ Binance accounts have been emptied since the Venezuelan’s absence.
Hernandez “simulated a kidnapping where his captors allegedly compelled him to visit the Binance platform and conduct transfers to multiple digital wallets, emptying all the crypto assets in question,” according to Rico.
Hernandez is thought to have pretended to be a financial advisor before soliciting Bitcoin from a number of local investors, amassing a total of 23.66 BTC, according to officials.
Venezuela has long been a global hotbed for Bitcoin adoption, with locals flocking to cryptocurrencies to combat the country’s persistent hyperinflation over the last decade.
Cryptocurrencies provide Venezuelans with a way to hold wealth and access international markets, as well as a way to change into US dollars.
While the Venzeulan government has attempted to control the local digital asset market by mandating the use of The Petro, their oil-backed cryptocurrency, there has been little sign of popular adoption of the currency among local inhabitants since its inception.