The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court has sentenced Ho Ngoc Tai and Tran Ngoc Hoang, two Vietnamese residents, to life imprisonment for kidnapping and stealing $1.5 million worth of bitcoin from an individual. Fourteen other accomplices in the crime received sentences ranging from 9 to 19 years.
Tai, 34, and Hoang, 40, were given life imprisonment for orchestrating a complex kidnapping and draining $1.5m in BTC from the victim. As per local law, digital assets are illegal in Vietnam and cannot be used as a currency or mode of payment. Nevertheless, the defendants converted the stolen BTC to VND18.8bn ($800,000), and the court has ordered them to pay the victim the same amount in compensation.
Tai and Hoang had the support of fourteen accomplices, who were also sentenced to prison. However, none of them received a life sentence, with their respective sentences ranging from 9 to 19 years. Notably, two of the individuals, Nguyen Quoc Dung and Nguyen Anh Tuan, were former police officers. The former received a sentence of 17 years, while the latter will serve 12 years behind bars.
Retrospection of the Crime
According to a report by CryptoPotato last week, the incident began five years ago when Le Duc Nguyen advised Ho Ndoc Tai to sell 1,000 BTC (valued at over $4m at the time) to buy other digital assets. The investment didn’t yield the expected returns, and Tai alleged that he had been defrauded.
Tai and his gang abducted Nguyen at gunpoint to recover the funds, using advanced techniques to track his location. The group hired a van, procured weapons and forced the victim’s brother to transfer the original 1,000 BTC to Tai’s wallet. However, the brother couldn’t provide the complete sum. The criminals managed to restore $1.5m in bitcoin, after which they abandoned their captive near Ho Chi Minh City.
The Vietnamese police arrested the sixteen suspects but faced difficulty with the testimonies of Tai and his accomplices. Tai initially confessed to the operation but later retracted his admission. The other defendants claimed that they didn’t know they’d be kidnapping the victim and believed they were merely attempting to collect the debt owed to Tai.