Inside a violent gang’s ruthless crypto-stealing home invasion spree

photo illustration of Cyber thieves stealing Bitcoin on laptop screen

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ripe target for theft—and not just hacking, but the old-fashioned, up-close-and-personal kind, too. Given that it can be irreversibly transferred in seconds with little more than a password, it’s perhaps no surprise that thieves have occasionally sought to steal crypto in home-invasion burglaries and even kidnappings. But rarely do those thieves leave a trail of violence in their wake as disturbing as that of one recent, ruthless, and particularly prolific gang of crypto extortionists.

The United States Justice Department earlier this week announced the conviction of Remy Ra St. Felix, a 24-year-old Florida man who led a group of men behind a violent crime spree designed to compel victims to hand over access to their cryptocurrency savings. That announcement and the criminal complaint laying out charges against St. Felix focused largely on a single theft of cryptocurrency from an elderly North Carolina couple, whose home St. Felix and one of his accomplices broke into before physically assaulting the two victims—both in their seventies—and forcing them to transfer more than $150,000 in bitcoin and ether to the thieves’ crypto wallets.

In fact, that six-figure sum appears to have been the gang’s only confirmed haul from its physical crypto thefts—although the burglars and their associates made millions in total, mostly through more traditional crypto hacking as well as stealing other assets. A deeper look into court documents from the St. Felix case, however, reveals that the relatively small profit St. Felix’s gang made from its burglaries doesn’t capture the full scope of the harm they inflicted: In total, those court filings and DOJ officials describe how more than a dozen convicted and alleged members of the crypto-focused gang broke into the homes of 11 victims, carrying out a brutal spree of armed robberies, death threats, beatings, torture sessions, and even one kidnapping in a campaign that spanned four US states.

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