Venezuela has already been struggling with various problems including sanctions placed by the US, economic volatility, and an unstable government. While this already makes the scenario quite hostile for the population which includes a major community of crypto enthusiasts, crimes involving cryptocurrencies are also on the rise.
Per latest reports, the Venezuelan Scientific, Criminal, and Criminalistic Investigations Corps (CICPC), quite similar to that of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US, has announced the arrest of two hackers who targeted a Venezuelan trading platform and managed to steal 101 bitcoins ($1.9 million).
The arrested, José Manuel Osorio Mendoza, 33, and Kelvin Jonathan Diaz, 34, allegedly broke into the servers of Venezuela’s Bancar Exchange, one of the many popular crypto trading platforms authorized in the nation.
After bypassing the platform’s security systems, the attackers went on to transfer bitcoins to multiple wallets that they controlled, along with fiat that were sent to accounts associated with them.
Even though the hackers carefully tried to get rid of their digital fingerprints to cover their tracks, authorities were able to trace the funds to a tech company named Proinsa, situated in Costa Rica. Authorities are still investigating on how this company is connected with the suspects.
Not Just Criminals
However, these criminals aren’t the only concern for Venezuelan crypto enthusiasts, and especially cryptocurrency miners. The government in Venezuela has been accused of corruption. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts and miners have complained about extortion attempts from government officials.
Last year, reports emerged that Venezuela’s central bank has been laundering Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) that has been obtained from illegally seized mining equipment. The scandal was exposed by Eduardo Gomez, head of support at Purse.io.
Following this, a report published by the Economist accused President Nicolas Maduro of using the electrical grid owned by the government to track Bitcoin miners and illegally seize their mining equipment.
In September, local crypto miners noted that disclosing one’s income and activity has often attracted the attention of bad actors and corrupt government officials. Some local miners have even complained about extortion attempts.
But that doesn’t mean the nation isn’t keen on leveraging the cryptocurrencies for its benefits. The nation has centralized cryptocurrency mining and has taken several steps to bypass US sanctions using this technology. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice even alleged that the nation’s president Nicolas Maduro of concealing transactions related to illicit drug-running using cryptocurrencies.