Russian ransom: Gang grabs Belarusian couple in Phuket crypto con

Five members of a Russian gang have been apprehended for the kidnapping and extortion of a Belarusian couple in Phuket, forcing them to transfer 30 million baht (US$848,296) in cryptocurrency before abandoning them. The incident occurred on January 31, at a prominent hotel in the Talad Yai area of Mueang Phuket district.

A tourist witnessed the couple being forcefully pushed into a black Hyundai van with a red license plate and reported the event to the police. The following day, the police located the victims, Albert Viniankou and his wife, and through the help of an interpreter, ascertained the details of the crime.

The couple was abducted near their residence, less than 2 kilometres from the scene of the crime, and were held in a rented house where they were coerced into transferring US$801,200 worth of cryptocurrency.

Phuket kidnapping
Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

The Phuket Provincial Investigation Unit discovered items including knives, tape, straw rope, and energy drinks in a white Fortuner with a red Phuket license plate near the rented house, which they believe belonged to the perpetrators.

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Russian ransom: Gang grabs Belarusian couple in Phuket crypto con | News by Thaiger
Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

The victims reported that before the abduction, they had visited a gaming store in the Chalong area and were intercepted by three assailants in a red-plate Hyundai as they returned home. The assailants covered the male victim’s head with a black bag, physically assaulted him, and forced the cryptocurrency transfer. After receiving the money, the criminals released the couple approximately one kilometre from the abduction site.

Russian gang charges

Phuket kidnapping
Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

After gathering evidence and testimonies, the authorities issued arrest warrants for five suspects: 37 year old Salim Nalchikov, 30 year old Oleg Bogdanov, 36 year old Achamat Nagov, 29 year old Islam Abdokov, and 36 year old Aslan Abazov—all Russian nationals. They were apprehended and charged with serious offences, including extortion and deprivation of liberty, reported KhaoSod.

In response to the traumatic event, the police authorities, including the Phuket Immigration Office, Tourist Police, Mueang Phuket Police Station, Provincial Investigation Unit, and the Special Branch, have offered protection to the victims, who expressed satisfaction with the police’s handling of the case.

Phuket kidnapping
Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

The suspects now face charges of robbery, coercion, joint assault, and illegal detention as per the case numbers provided by the local police stations. This harrowing ordeal underscores the increasing concerns regarding cryptocurrency-related crimes and the importance of international cooperation in tackling such transnational criminal activities.

In related news, Phuket residents were discontent over the surge in Russian settlers, citing economic and social challenges. Authorities took action against illegal activities while acknowledging the economic contributions.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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