The perpetrator of the mass killings at New Zealand mosque appears to have funded his life with investments he made in defunct cryptocurrency BitConnect.
Just for reminder, we wrote of how in January last year, the team of BitConnect officially announced the halt of their lending and exchange platform. The self-regulated all-in-one Bitcoin and crypto community platform, BitConnect was, at the first place, created to offer multiple investment opportunities with cryptocurrency education.
BitConnect has informed the members of their community that they are “closing the lending operation immediately with the release of all outstanding loans”.
The scheme was once grand before its eventual conclusion and went up to a market of over two and a half billion dollars ($2.6B). The scheme has long been dismantled, however, while it lasted many people managed to make money and receive hefty returns.
The platform has been accused of being a pyramid scheme because the marketing structure was built on several levels and that they promised unreasonably high payouts.
However, even though there is (still) no official confirmation of the document’s legitimacy, it may be likewise that Brenton Tarrant participated in BitConnect. Still, there is no official evidence of gaining profit through this participation.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the killer as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.” She issued “the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this.”
The person who has committed this violent act has no place here. To those in Christchurch; I encourage you to stay inside and follow the instructions of @nzpolice. The Police Commissioner will be making a public statement at 5pm. I will update everyone again later this evening.
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) March 15, 2019
Is There a Crypto Connection After All?
We believe there is. Especially if we look at the revealing of the killer who said that video game Fortnite taught him how to be a killer.
The gunman disclosed that he has dabbled in cryptocurrency, writing:
“I worked for a short time before making some money investing in BitConnect, then used the money from the investment to travel.”
He reportedly used the profits to travel overseas across Europe, Southeast Asia, and Asia, which may be where he became radicalized, according to the manager of the gym where the gunman worked.
Tarrant did not give further details about his investment, and it remains unknown how much he was able to obtain from it, or whether the funds had a direct impact on the crimes he subsequently committed.
The threat of terrorist activity involving cryptocurrency remains a preoccupation of authorities worldwide.
While literature often brings up worries over its use in crime, other studies have questioned the extent to which organized terrorists, in particular, are able to leverage cryptocurrency within their operations.
However, it seems that cash still remains the preferred form of financing.
Christchurch Announced $5M of Tokens Stolen From Cryptopia
New Zealand is known for being safe, and the shooting has rocked the entire region. While Australia and the UK both have bans on semi-automatic weapons, however, New Zealand does not. It also rolls out the welcome mat for immigrants and refugees.
Christchurch however, has been famous for the crypto business before. In January this year, Christchurch-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia suffered a security breach. Customers didn’t have any idea what was happening to their funds, while police remained tight-lipped about the investigation.
Customers couldn’t access their accounts even a month later. The investigation is still ongoing. The combined worth of tokens stolen from Cryptopia’s digital wallets is unclear. On January 13, it’s estimated more than $5 million was transferred to an unknown digital wallet. The following day, the website was down.
On January 15, Cryptopia admitted a “security breach” and said “appropriate government agencies” had been notified. But New York-based analyst Max Galka, of Elementus, said in his blog that funds continued being drained until January 17. He estimated the total value of stolen tokens at around US$16m (NZ$24m).