A Kidnap, a Ransom, and The Limits of Bitcoin as a Criminal Currency8

Costa Rican news outlets have been reporting a tragic crime story that has an interesting cryptocurrency twist. Twelve people have been arrested in Costa Rica and Spain in connection with the kidnapping (and suspected murder) of American entrepreneur William Sean Creighton, who disappeared in September 2018 and hasn’t been seen since. Creighton’s family were contacted by the kidnappers after his disappearance, and asked to pay a ransom of $5 million USD in bitcoin, but they were only able to pay $1 million. Despite making a transfer, Creighton was not released, and is now presumed dead. It’s thought that Creighton was targeted because he ran a sportsbook betting business in Costa Rica called 5Dimes, and was taking payment in bitcoin.

The story has caught the public’s attention for many reasons, not only because kidnappings are rare in Costa Rica, but also because his girlfriend, mother, and grandmother have all been arrested. The fact that the criminal band apparently includes two policemen is also an indication of the appalling degree of corruption that plagues law enforcement in my county of origin. These policemen reportedly collaborated in stopping the victim on the road, facilitating and allowing his kidnap.

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