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Crooks run off with crypto at Taiwan high speed railway station

Tether transaction in Kaohsiung goes awry as NT$9 million stolen from unsuspecting seller

Zuoying Station was the scene of a cryptocurrency crime. (CNA photo)

Zuoying Station was the scene of a cryptocurrency crime. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — On Monday evening (Jan 30) at 10 p.m. in Kaohsiung, an in-person transaction involving virtual currency Tether went awry, with one party fleeing before the transaction could be completed.

Liberty Times reported a woman surnamed Feng (馮) met a man surnamed Luo (羅) at the main ticket office of the Zuoying High Speed Rail Station. The transaction involved 281,251 Tether coins worth approximately NT$9 million (US$299,000).

After Feng transferred the Tether coins to Luo, he lied the transaction did not go through and said he needed to use the bathroom and would check on the transaction after he got back. Instead of relieving himself, Luo quickly absconded into a nearby taxi with the Tether coins secure in his cryptowallet with another associate surnamed Hsu (許).

Tether is an asset-backed crypto that is often categorized as a “stablecoin” as it is intended to mimic the valuations of real fiat currencies. Each unit of Tether is meant to represent US$1, as the company alleges it maintains reserves of US$1 for each unit of Tether that is minted.

The Zuoying Police Precinct is following up with the case, promising a full review despite some confusion regarding conflicting jurisdictions potentially involving the Railway Police Bureau and the Zuoying Police Precinct.

Police officers from the Zuoying Precinct Wenzi Police Station did stop and question the two suspects, Luo (羅) and Hsu (許) at 11:43 p.m. on Sunday evening (Jan. 29). Unfortunately, only a simple ID check was conducted as police were unfamiliar with the particulars of the case and the pair were immediately set free.

Authorities said Luo and Hsu are now currently thought to be in Tainan.

Thieves are now setting their sights on crypto as a similar incident reported by SETN occurred last October at the Taichung High Speed Railway Station. One male surnamed Su (蘇) carried a bag containing approximately NT$2 million (US$60,000) in banknotes to conduct an in-person purchase of crypto, though the transaction was simply a smash and grab as the thief surnamed Huang (黃) fled in a nearby car though he was eventually captured.