Last month, Bulgarian plumbers were called to clear a blocked drain at an apartment block in the capital of Sofia. The blockage turned out to be the decomposing remains of 41-year-old United States crypto mogul Christian Peev — suspected to have been battered to death with a dumbbell by a friend out of jealousy.
Weeks earlier, a group of children stumbled across the body of missing cryptocurrency millionaire Fernando Pérez Algaba in a river in the Buenos Aries province. Police say he was shot three times before being stuffed into a suitcase, pointing the finger at organized crime.
“Crypto-related crime has become bigger than ever before. And money laundering using cryptocurrency is now the number one way for every organized crime group on the planet.”
Ken Gamble, the co-founder and executive chairman of financial crime intelligence firm IFW Global, tells Magazine that many of these kinds of deaths are likely linked to the rise of organized crime and money laundering using crypto. In May, Gamble’s organization took down a billion-dollar call center scam syndicate in Malaysia. His firm has investigated a number of criminal organizations across Asia and Europe over the years. Gamble argues this has inevitably led to crypto holders getting mixed up with the wrong crowds.
Matt Hussey, former editorial director of Near Protocol and a founder of crypto media firm Decrypt, has also been trying to make sense of the murders. In a May 19 blog on LinkedIn, Hussey argued that some of the killings are the result of disgruntled investors simply taking matters into their own hands and blamed the “fuzzy area crypto continues to operate.”
“Because crypto straddles the legal and illegal worlds, it is regarded by many as a place where law enforcement does not tread. As a result, retribution and revenge are, for some, the only recourse they have,” he said.
Some of the deaths could simply be because rich crypto millionaires are seen as easy targets amid a time when the cost of living continues to drive upward. Gamble said there is “no doubt” that organizations out there are targeting and issuing hits on people who hold a lot of crypto.
Of course, there is also a good chance that most of the deaths have nothing to do with crypto or nefarious people at all. Out of the 10 reported deaths since November 2022, only the Gangnam woman’s murder in Seoul was seen as the direct result of her connection to crypto. None of the reports have mentioned any cryptocurrency being stolen by their suspected assailants either.
It stands to reason that news desks have become more aware of cryptocurrencies over the past year. Someone dying or being murdered somewhere in the world isn’t likely to make a headline, but someone dying due to their connection to a purportedly shady world of crypto? You bet it’ll make a headline.
- Last month, the remains of a United States crypto mogul were found decomposing in a blocked drain in Sofia, suspected to have been battered to death by a friend out of jealousy.
- A missing cryptocurrency millionaire was found shot and stuffed into a suitcase, pointing the finger at organized crime.
- The rise of organized crime and money laundering using crypto is believed to be linked to many of these deaths.
- Disgruntled investors seeking revenge and the perception of rich crypto millionaires as easy targets may also be factors in the deaths.
- However, not all of the reported deaths have a clear connection to crypto, and mainstream media coverage of cryptocurrencies may be amplifying the perception of a connection between crypto and the deaths.