Earlier this year, The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has reported that during a recent business trip to Thailand, 33-year-old Singaporean businessman Mark Cheng Jin Quan was captured, tortured and held for a ransom of S$1 Million (or about US$740,000) worth of Bitcoin (BTC).
Together with a trusted fellow Singaporean friend and associate – Kim Lee Yao Wei, the young cryptocurrency consultant was allegedly abducted by a Thai actor who was known to him while both Singaporeans flew to Bangkok on 9th January 2020. The individual blindfolded Cheng and took him away to a “deserted place”.
The kidnappers then accosted Mark to pay up the ransom sum in order to secure his own release. Without access to the requested amount, the victim was only able to transfer all of his available Bitcoin, just a little more than S$46,000 to his captors. Probably angered by the small amount, they planned to kill him.
“I did not expect my friend to be involved. I really dont know who I can trust now.”– Mark Cheng, Victim of the Bitcoin Kidnapping Case in Thailand
In a story published by media platform Lianhe Wanbao, Cheng says he was able to escape just before they could kill him.
“One of them held the gun against the back of my head while the others stepped away. Fortunately, I know martial arts. I reached behind my head and grabbed the pistol, and then I fled.”– Mark Cheng in an interview of Singapore’s Chinese Publication Lianhe Wanbao 联合晚报
According to official reports from the police, Cheng was also shown a gun to his head which he successfully defended and then later fled. At this point, he had no whereabouts of his colleague and was planning to report his missing at the nearest station. Cheng was picked up by passers-by and was driven down to the Ongkharak Police Station where he filed the case.
Once the police complaint was lodged, the Thai police launched a manhunt for the absconding Singapore citizen. Investigations later pointed to his associate Kim Lee Yao Wei as the mastermind of the kidnapping saga, and later found in a Bangkok hotel where he confessed to plotting the entire scam to loot the BTC haul. Lee was found with 1.4 million Thai Baht all paid in Bitcoin (BTC). He has since been arrested and charged with robbery, illegal detention, assault, and illegal firearms possession..
Business Fraud and Charges
Mark, despite being the victim here has been under police scanners for some time now. He was charged in Singapore last year with dishonest misappropriation of over $300,000 from an investment company in 2014.
Further research has revealed that Mark has been working as an advisor to Singaporean blockchain start-up ‘X Infinity’, which lists the young businessman as having nine years’ experience in venture capital and commercialisation.
Singapore-based news publication site AsiaOne wrote that Cheng is “facing cheating charges” in Singapore, and it’s currently unknown whether he will be forced to return to Singapore for his court hearing on February 3.
It’s unclear how much of Cheng’s story is true or accurate given his extraordinary circumstances and pending charges. Cheng will give evidence against his captors once the trial date is set.
Given the persisting hype going around Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies, it is strongly advisable to maintain a low profile and keep your portfolio holdings to yourself. This is not the first time that we have heard of similar ‘Bitcoin Kidnapping’ cases and definitely not the last. We hope that our readers can take their utmost due diligence in protecting their assets and safety while investing in Cryptocurrencies.