A Significant New Escalation In The Theft Of Cryptocurrency – Violent Home Invasions
Durham, North Carolina Police & The FBI Are Investigating A Terrifying Home Invasion Involving Cryptocurrency Theft
A Durham, North Carolina couple endured a harrowing ordeal during a recent home invasion, where they were targeted for their cryptocurrency holdings. According to authorities, two armed men, disguised as construction workers, approached the couple’s Wells Street residence.
Once inside, the assailants, identified as Remy Ra St. Felix and Elmer Castro, brandished handguns and restrained the elderly couple using zip ties. The terrified victims, both 76 years old, were then coerced into transferring a significant amount of cryptocurrency, totaling $250,000, to an undisclosed account.
The criminals employed appalling threats, including harm to the husband’s toes and genitalia, as well as plans to shoot him and assault his wife. Under duress, the couple was forced to execute four transactions, totaling $156,853, within a 45-minute window. Fortunately, Coinbase flagged one of the transactions, potentially aiding the investigation.
Court documents revealed that the heinous plot was not a spontaneous act but rather a premeditated crime. A third accomplice was involved in tracking the victims, with Castro and St. Felix allegedly surveilling the couple for three days before the invasion took place.
According to ABC11:
Felix and Elmer Castro zip-tied the two 76-year-olds and held them at gunpoint. The court documents say the men threatened to cut off the husband’s toes and genitalia, to shoot him and rape his wife before forcing them to transfer more than $150,000 worth of cryptocurrency to an unknown account.
According to CBS17:
The arrest warrants released last Thursday, August 3rd for kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping indicate two West Palm Beach, Florida, men are wanted — Jarod Gabriel Seemungal and Remy Ra St. Felix.
CBS 17 has also obtained an FBI criminal complaint filed the same day in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina which said suspects began as early as February targeting retirees who had cryptocurrency and that the accused men even had the license plate number for the husband’s car. A third man is also named in the criminal complaint, but no arrest warrant was issued for him Thursday.
According to the FBI:
The two suspects also discussed in internet messages how potential victims “have so much” money in accounts that it would be “retirement licks” — the FBI explaining in the complaint that “licks” is slang for a robbery, the complaint said.
The thieves apparently rented a car in Florida and visited the Millennium Hotel in Durham a couple of days before the actual robbery, according to the complaint. Video from a home near the victims’ showed the thieves’ BMW SUV “conducting surveillance” at the couple’s home each of the three days before the kidnapping, the FBI said.
One part of the FBI’s complaint said a person driving a gray 2019 BMW X5 — extremely similar to the SUV the suspects used — visited a Durham Walmart on April 11 to purchase the costumes that allowed thieves to get into the home of the elderly victims.
Walmart records from the Glen School Road store revealed a debit card of one man linked to the robbery showed the purchase of a clipboard, reflective vest, sunglasses and a pair of khaki pants, the FBI said. Video also showed two of the men involved inside the Walmart, the FBI said.
The theft itself is also detailed in the FBI complaint, indicating how the suspects entered the home and took control.
The robbery began when two men dressed as construction workers came to the door of the elderly couple’s home around 7:30 a.m. April 12, the FBI said.
The duo claimed they would be inspecting pipes for damage and told the husband they would be “walking around the house.”
After a few minutes, the pair knocked on the door again and the wife answered the door. The suspects who both had guns then pushed their way inside.
“The men restrained and zip-tied the husband’s hands and the wife’s hands,” the FBI complaint said.
A man armed with a pink gun showed the wife it was loaded by opening the cylinder and then dragged her into a bathroom by her legs, the criminal complaint said.
The Durham Police and the FBI are actively investigating this shocking incident, aiming to bring the perpetrators to justice and provide support to the traumatized victims.
While this is an isolated case, it raises the spector for other owners of cryptocurrency.
As we all have seen in the past, crime is often a question of perceiving possibilities. As criminals become aware of new opportunities it opens the door for others to mimic the new crime typology. We have seen this in home invasions in the past, turning it into a whole new wave of crime.
What is concerning here, however, is that with the advent of Pig Butchering cryptocurrency investment scams, victims lose their crypto in the scam. But law enforcement is becoming particularly effective in tracing and recovering lost cryptocurrency. Because this is being done by law enforcement, public prosecutors, and the courts, there is a high risk that victims will be identified – making them a potential target.
We have seen how public officials, in their zeal to create fame for themselves have identified the identity of the victims in cases of recovered cryptocurrency. In many jurisdictions, the associated court records may also be accessible to the public. These can place the scam victims who lost and then recovered their cryptocurrency at risk of becoming targets for criminals just like those mentioned above.
We urge all law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts to make sure that the identities of scam victims who lost cryptocurrency and later had it recovered remain sealed and confidential! Otherwise the risk becomes all to great.