With the high price of Bitcoin, are Sask. criminals cashing in?
Do crimes involving the cryptocurrency Bitcoin transpire in Saskatchewan?
The answer — not as technologically sophisticated as the digital coin might suggest.
One of the most recent was a smash-and-grab job reported to the Prince Albert Police Service. It was reported that two male suspects were responsible for the break-in and theft in the 1400 block of Central Avenue.
Upon further investigation, officers noted a Bitcoin machine had been pried open and the contents were stolen.
“Our HoneyBadger Bitcoin ATM at Gateway Mall in Prince Albert was compromised and as a result, a small amount of cash was stolen and the machine was damaged,” read a statement provided by HoneyBadger CEO Rob Spurgeon.
“HoneyBadger has been operating in Saskatchewan since 2017, and we have successfully helped customers buy and sell Bitcoin at 13 locations across the province with no previous thefts.
Dr. Natalia Stakhanova, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Department of Computer Science and Canada research chair in cybersecurity, explained what Bitcoin ATMs are and how people use them.
“Believe it or not, it’s just like a regular ATM … with a slight difference,” she said.
“It’s very similar in the sense that you would also need to bring your cash and through a transaction … you could actually buy a Bitcoin so you wouldn’t get necessarily anything back or nothing tangible at least but you will get a confirmation that you actually bought a Bitcoin.
“The money that you’re using, the physical money, will buy the corresponding amount of Bitcoins and that amount is going to be virtually transferred to your wallet, to your virtual wallet … so there is nothing physical to carry out of that ATM except the money, the cash money that somebody would put in.”
Spurgeon told Global News no customers were impacted by the theft and no data was compromised as it is not stored in HoneyBadger’s kiosks. He added it was an older ATM that has now been upgraded with a new model that has increased security features.
As of noon on Friday, one Bitcoin had a price of roughly $60,000.
“If somebody would be buying a few Bitcoins, then they would need to put at least several thousand into the ATM to get it out. So I think that’s the primary value in actually going after Bitcoin ATM, just the cash itself,” Stakhanova said.
“This is the first (theft involving a…