South African Child Kidnapped, Captors Demand 5 BTC for Her Release

A South African anti-crime group is given 48 hrs to pay a Bitcoin ransom for the safe return of a missing nine-year-old girl.

According to a local report, Western Cape Gangwatch, a social media-driven anti-crime website, recently received an email from a group of kidnappers demanding a ransom of five Bitcoins (approx $20,112) for the return of a missing nine-year-old, Linathi Titshala.

“You have 48 hours, should you not transfer the bitcoin in 48 hours we will cease communication. This email is going to be deleted in 12 hours.”

Linathi was reported missing on December 16, 2018, after she failed to return home from her grandmother’s home in Delft, Africa, following a birthday celebration. It is believed that she could have been kidnapped somewhere along the walk home. 

The Bitcoin address of the kidnappers has been made public; 1Bk4TQzDXhxGgMwrXcaFhViSyoT9GLk2kN. So far only two transactions worth 0.0168602 BTC ($67 each) appear to have been sent and moved from this address. First, they were moved to an address containing 120 Bitcoins, and from there it is believed that they could have been sent to a cryptocurrency exchange. By moving funds on to a cryptocurrency exchange the criminals are able to trade their ransomed Bitcoins for privacy coins to make them harder to track, or they can cash them out into fiat. It is also likely that the criminals will have avoided crypto exchanges that impose KYC and AML measures to prevent being discovered by law enforcement officials - highlighting the importance for crypto exchanges to ensure that these measures are adhered to prevent this type of crime.

Western Cape Gangwatch has made an effort to trace the email back to the kidnappers. However, they’ve reported that the kidnappers most likely used an internet cafe to conceal themselves, as no IP address or email address could be found. According to a spokesperson from the Gangwatch group, the search will continue this week for Linathi.

“We are pooling all resources including doing a search again in the coming week. There will be a search for Linathi on Monday, 7 January and Tuesday, 8 January, [from] 9am-4pm.

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