Exmo Finance executive who was kidnapped on Tuesday in Kiev has been released according to reports. Pavel Lerner, an executive at Exmo Finance and a renowned expert in cryptocurrency in the locality, was kidnapped on Tuesday near his office in Ukraine by an unknown gang who according to sources were demanding a ransom for his release. Mr. Palev, a Russian based in Ukraine, was taken by these kidnappers into a black Mercedes-Benz with his head covered in a black clock. The kidnappers demanded $1 million dollars’ worth of bitcoin before letting him go – a ransom which was eventually paid. Ukrainian Interior Minister referred to the crime as “bitcoin kidnapping and extortion”. Mr. Gerashchenko, Ukrainian adviser, stated that Mr. Lerner was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting bitcoins, and that information they had received showed that Mr. Lerner was made to pay more than a million US dollars in bitcoin. He confirmed that Pavel Lerner had indeed been held hostage for a day and half and was later “released in a state of shock”, been “very lucky that he remained alive”.
Exmo Finance, is a firm registered in the UK with Companies House. However, it has operations in Ukraine also where Pavel works. Exmo is one of the many cryptocurrency exchanges that have emerged worldwide in an effort to address the pressing needs of the cryptocurrency market in terms of transactions. Ever since it became possible to exchange cryptocurrencies with real world currency and its demand increased, it has also drawn the attention of many criminals who seek to exploit the unregulated venture. Most prone to these attacks are the cryptocurrency exchange services who have become a very lucrative business enterprise due to the appreciation in value of cryptocurrencies lately. A single bitcoin as at the time of writing is valued at over $13,700 which is the highest trading cryptocurrency so far.
After the kidnapping, most people who traded with Exmo got concerned with regards to the safety of their cryptocurrency funds. The concerns were later calmed when Exmo announced that the funds of its users were safe and that Lerner’s work at Exmo had nothing to do with the storage or personal data of users. Despite Mr. Lerner being supposed to be CEO, the firm said to BBC he was the analytics manager. According to the Financial Times, the National Police of Ukraine had launched an investigation into an alleged abduction of a foreigner in Kiev but did not disclose the identity of the abducted. Exmo stated later on Thursday on their Twitter account when they had a temporary website problem that they had been hit by a cyber-attack. Exmo may not be one of the very large cryptocurrency exchangers you know but it has quite a handful of about 94,000 active users, and had traded close to $125 million dollars’ worth of bitcoins between the late hours of Thursday and Friday evening.
Featured Image via Business Insider
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