Everyone wants Bitcoin, and some people are willing to go as far as kidnapping newly minted Bitcoin billionaires in order to get their hands on the valuable cryptocurrency.
Living in lawless Ukraine, with so much Bitcoin, was probably not such a good idea.
Being a “Bitcoin Billionaire” just got a bit more complicated after reports surfaced that the CEO of EXMO, a UK-based Bitcoin exchange, was kidnapped in Kiev. According to The Telegraph, Pavel Lerner (40) was pulled into a black Mercedes Benz by a group of armed men wearing ski masks as he left his office in the Obolon district of Kiev on December 26.
Adding to the intrigue of the abduction, EXMO’s website suffered a Distributed Denial of Server (DDOS) attack this morning, which knocked trading temporarily offline, just as news of the kidnapping begin to draw public attention.
Following the news of Lerner’s disappearance, EXMO issued a statement requesting “any information regarding his whereabouts.”
EXMO assured its customers that Lerner could not be ‘convinced’ to give up their Bitcoin or personal data stored on the exchange.
A spokesman was unavailable for comment but a statement sent to RT, the broadcaster backed by the Russian government, said that Mr Lerner’s kidnapping would not affect the business.
“We are doing everything possible to speed up the search of Pavel Lerner,” it said.
“Any information regarding his whereabouts is very much appreciated. Despite the situation, the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that nature of Pavel’s job at EXMO doesn’t assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users funds are absolutely safe.”
According to RT, Lerner has a number of startups in Ukraine linked to cryptocurrency mining and blockchain technology. He is also a managing director of a major UK-based cryptocurrency exchange Exmo.
Kiev police have issued not statement on Lerner’s abduction and the motives for the kidnapping.