Four arrested over Taiwan’s first bitcoin robbery

Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code that allows anonymous transactions and its value has soared since it came into being in 2009. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2018

Four arrested over Taiwan’s first bitcoin robbery

TAIWAN: Taiwan police have arrested four men over a bitcoin robbery worth 5 million Taiwanese dollars in what they said was the first case of its kind on the island.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code that allows anonymous transactions and its value has soared since it came into being in 2009.
Taiwan police said three men in their early twenties lured a man surnamed Tai to the central city of Taichung, pretending to be interested in buying bitcoins.
After Tai showed proof of his bitcoins on his phone, the scammers assaulted him and his friend, then transferred 18 bitcoins worth 5 million Taiwanese dollars from Tai’s account via his phone.
The suspects attempted to pass off the heist as a drunken row by forcing the victim to drink Kaoliang, a strong Taiwanese liquor, Taichung city police said in a statement.
Police arrived at the scene after receiving a call about a dispute and one man was detained. The other two had fled.
“The police saw bloodstains at the scene ... after further investigation, it was discovered to be a bitcoin virtual currency robbery,” the statement released Wednesday said.
It described the case, which happened earlier this month, as “the first domestic case of bitcoin robbery.”
The two other suspects were later arrested, one on the outlying island of Kinmen where he had gone to escape police.
The fourth man, surnamed Shih, believed to be the mastermind behind the robbery, was also detained.
Britain saw its first Bitcoin armed robbery last month, according to reports, in which a virtual currency trader and his wife were threatened with a gun.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are independent of governments and banks and use blockchain technology, where encrypted digital coins are created by supercomputers.
But calls are mounting for virtual currencies to be regulated, and prices have fluctuated in recent months amid concerns over tightened control.


India coronavirus cases pass 6 million

Updated 5 min 35 sec ago

India coronavirus cases pass 6 million

  • India could leapfrog the US in the coming weeks
  • Narendra Modi has called on people to keep wearing face coverings when they ventured outside of their homes

NEW DELHI: India reported its six millionth coronavirus case on Monday as it surged closer to the United States as the most-infected nation, and authorities pressed ahead with reigniting the economy.
The vast nation is home to 1.3 billion people, some of humanity’s most densely populated cities and a feeble health care system, and for several weeks it has reported around 90,000 new cases daily — the highest in the world.
Health ministry data showed a rise of 82,000 cases on Monday, taking the total to 6.1 million and closing the gap on the United States, which has recorded 7.1 million infections. India could leapfrog the US in the coming weeks.
India has a much lower death rate than other worst-hit nations with almost 100,000 fatalities so far — fewer than half the grisly toll of 205,000 recorded in the US, which has roughly a quarter of the population. Brazil has meanwhile recorded 140,000 deaths.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on people to keep wearing face coverings when they ventured outside of their homes.
“These rules are weapons in the war against corona. They are potent tools to save the life of every citizen,” Modi said during his monthly radio address on Sunday.
The virus initially hit major metropolises including financial hub Mumbai and capital New Delhi, but has since spread to regional and rural areas where health care systems are even more fragile and patchy.
“In several of the pockets where the transmission is active, the infection has gone into the community,” former national health secretary Sujatha Rao said.
“It is difficult to control transmission in such situations and a dramatic turnaround can perhaps be possible only through a rigorous implementation of a lockdown and preventive measures like mask wearing.”
The government is unlikely to reimpose major restrictions after a lockdown in March battered the economy and wrecked the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly the poor.
Some schools have now reopened, and trains, metros, domestic flights, markets and restaurants have been allowed to operate with some restrictions. The Taj Mahal also opened again for tourists this month.
Anand Krishnan, a community medicine professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, said authorities should focus on treating people who contract the virus.
“The only thing that we can do is take care of people who are ill — identify them faster and treat them better. And follow the social-distancing norms,” he said.
“Beyond that, I don’t think there is anything specific that can be done.”
Some locals in Delhi said that while they remained cautious, their worries about the pandemic had lessened since the start of the year.
“I’m out of the house all day because of my work. I don’t step out of the house for anything else,” said 23-year-old medical store worker Umang Chutani.
“The future is uncertain but one can only be cautious and follow all safety protocols.”
Himanshu Kainthola, 61, who recovered from the virus last month after testing positive with two other relatives, said his family’s fears “have reduced substantially.”
“We have made peace with it. We take the necessary precautions and invest in increasing our immunity rather than being anxious or scared of it.”
Creative writing student Santosh added that the virus was now “part of our lives.”
“You cannot shutdown every business, because the economy cannot collapse... COVID-19 is not going to pay the rent,” he said.