Vietnam Court Sets Precedent: Life in Prison for Perpetrators of $1.5M Crypto Theft

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Key takeaways: 

  • The alleged kidnapping of a person and theft of $1.5 worth of bitcoin was carried out by two former police officers and 14 more Vietnamese.
  • It was determined that Ho Ngoc Tai and Tran Ngoc Hoang had stolen crypto worth 37 billion Vietnamese ng ($1.5 million).

Two guys were given life sentences for stealing over VN$37 billion (about $1.5 million) in cryptocurrency in a heist that involved kidnapping victims and threatening to inject them with HIV-infected needles.

The Star reported on May 16 that a Vietnamese court had given two people a life sentence for a violent cryptocurrency theft. It was determined that Ho Ngoc Tai and Tran Ngoc Hoang had stolen cryptocurrencies worth 37 billion Vietnamese ng ($1.5 million). Another fourteen people were given prison terms ranging from nine to 19 years. According to the article, two of the people were once employed as police officers.

The drama reportedly began in 2018 when Le Duc Nguyen urged Ho Ngoc Tai to sell about 1,000 BTC, which was worth about $4.2 million at the time, to buy other digital currencies.

However, the investment did not turn out as Tai had hoped, leading him to feel he was a victim of cryptocurrency fraud. In May 2020, he put up a team intending to regain the assets since he could not accept the loss.

Believing that he had been deceived, Tai worked with 15 others to steal cryptocurrency from Nguyen in a plot that involved stalking, kidnapping, and threats of HIV infection. Nguyen and his wife and children were all targeted in the scheme; Nguyen’s brother was also contacted but did not surrender any crypto.

Now, those responsible for the crime must reimburse the victim 18.8 billion Vietnamese ng. Since cryptocurrency is not recognized as legal tender in Vietnam, it has reportedly been exchanged for local currency.

Despite Vietnam’s absence of a legal framework for cryptocurrencies, the nation is one of the top users of cryptocurrencies globally. According to Chainalysis reports from 2022, the country ranked first on several criteria, ahead of the Philippines and Ukraine.

Prosecutors recently investigated the offices of two regional cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea to investigate the digital assets owned by the lawmaker Kim Nam-kuk. Using the data as a basis, the lawmaker transferred 800,000 WEMIX tokens worth 6 billion WON ($4.5 million) from Upbit to Bithumb. The legislator has denied breaching any laws because there is no necessity for lawmakers to record their cryptocurrency transactions.

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