Men jailed for stealing seven Bitcoins worth $287,000 from friend

By Hai Duyen   November 23, 2023 | 04:32 am PT
Men jailed for stealing seven Bitcoins worth $287,000 from friend
(From L) Pham Van Thuan, Nguyen Thai Son and Nguyen Cong Dung at a trial in HCMC for stealing Bitcoins, Nov. 22, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
Three men have received jail terms for stealing seven Bitcoins worth VND7 billion (US$287,500) from a man in HCMC using a recovery code left in a note.

Pham Van Thuan, 32, and Nguyen Thai Son, 33, became friends with a man named Trieu in 2018, a Ho Chi Minh City court heard Wednesday.

Facing financial issues, Thuan went to Trieu’s place in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 6 to stay while looking for a job in April last year.

One day Thuan borrowed a laptop bag from Trieu, found a note with Trust Wallet recovery phrase on it inside.

He used it to log into Trust Wallet and was able to open the account of Trieu, when he learned that Trieu owned seven Bitcoins that were worth over VND7 billion.

Several days later, Thuan returned the bag with the note inside.

The next month, Thuan decided to steal those Bitcoins by logging in Trieu’s wallet and transferred them all into his account. After that, he left Trieu’s place.

Assuming that Thuan had stolen his coins, Trieu called Thuan on the phone but he did not pick up, so he reported the theft to police.

At this point, Son intervened and helped Thuan hire a hotel room to hide from Trieu.

Son called his friend, Nguyen Cong Dung, 44, in Hanoi, asking him to travel to HCMC and help Thuan sort the issue.

Son and Dung requested Thuan to share 4.3 coins with them to which he agreed.

Son then converted 1.8 Bitcoins into USDT and sold it for more than VND775 million, which he and Dung have spent all, including a part invested again in cryptocurrency which resulted in losses.

As arranged by Son and Dung, Thuan then fled to Son’s hometown in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

On May 21, he called Trieu on the phone to make an arrangement regarding the Bitcoins.

However, police tracked him down and arrested him.

As current laws have not accepted Bitcoin and other virtual currencies as legal currencies and means of payment in Vietnam, the authorities only hold the defendants responsible for the amount of money that has been converted into Vietnamese money.

As sentenced by the HCMC court, Thuan received 13 years behind bars for "using computer networks, telecommunications networks, and electronic means to commit acts of property appropriation."

For "consuming property obtained by someone else's crime," Son received eight years and six months and Dung 10 years.

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