A Singaporean man was recently kidnapped during a work trip in Thailand, tortured, and forced to transfer USD500,000 (RM2,037,900) in Bitcoin to his abductors
According to The Star, the man in question, Mark Cheng Jin Quan, had gone to Bangkok to negotiate a business deal proposed by his friend and travel companion, a fellow Singaporean named Lee Wei Kim.
After managing to escape the ordeal, Cheng was later informed by the police that the kidnapping was allegedly masterminded by Lee.
Cheng, previously a blockchain adviser, was actually out on bail when the incident happened last Wednesday, 8 January
When he agreed to follow Lee to Bangkok to meet a contact for a business deal, Cheng had not suspected anything amiss
Cheng told The Straits Times that he met Lee several years ago through Bitcoin dealings, but became close in the past year as Lee wanted to learn more about Bitcoin mining.
"I didn't know where we were going. I trusted him completely," said Cheng, adding that they even went on a trip together before.
However, on the way to their hotel after landing at Suvarnabhumi airport, their Grab taxi pulled over at a petrol station where a group of masked men grabbed and bundled both of them into a nearby car
Cheng told Zaobao that he was then driven to several forested locations where he was drugged, blindfolded, stripped, and punched by his kidnappers.
They had also administered electric shocks and poured ice-cold water over him. They then demanded USD500,000 (RM2,037,900) in Bitcoin as ransom.
While fearing for his own life, Cheng said he was also concerned for Lee, who he thought was also abducted.
Cheng transferred BHT1.4 million (RM188,474) in Bitcoin to his abductors, however he said they were dissatisfied with the small amount and he felt a gun pointed to his head
At that moment, he knew he had to act fast. He recalled reaching behind his head, grabbing the pistol, and fleeing as fast as he could while heavily bruised.
Fortunately, he managed to hail a passing car, which drove him to a police station in the nearby province where he lodged a report.
Following a manhunt, Lee was arrested at a Bangkok hotel on Sunday, 12 January, and has been charged with robbery, detention of others, physical assault, and illegal possession of firearms
He confessed to all charges, which the police told The Straits Times could amount to a life sentence.
The police also detained four other suspects and found equipment linked to the kidnapping in one of the suspect's homes, where they managed to recover BHT1.2 million (RM161,611).
It was reported that Cheng was shocked to discover Lee was behind the kidnap.
"I didn't expect my friend to be involved. I really don't know who I can trust now," he said.
"I don't think I want to come back here (to Thailand) again," he added.