A US citizen is suing the parents of two then-minors who had allegedly stolen three quarters of a million dollars worth of bitcoin (BTC) some three years ago.
In 2018, US citizen Andrew Schober was robbed of BTC 16.4, with a current value of about USD 780,000. In 2021, the victim claims cooperation with investigators has allowed him to identify two UK-based men behind the crime. To retrieve his crypto, Schober is now suing them and their parents, who at the time of the theft were their legal guardians.
In a lawsuit filed in Colorado, US, the plaintiff said he has spent more than USD 10,000 on experts who tracked down crypto transactions involving his bitcoin, cybersecurity site Krebs On Security reported. The two men – identified as s Benedict Thompson and Oliver Read – whom the victim accuses of theft are currently studying computer science at universities in the UK.
“Both Benedict and Oliver are skilled software developers and computer science students. Both were minors when they engaged in the actions and omissions described herein,” the filed legal documents say.
The theft allegedly took place after Schober downloaded malicious software by clicking on a link posted on a Reddit forum, disguised as a cryptocurrency wallet application called Electrum Atom.
The victim accuses the alleged criminals of stealing his life savings.
“The deployment of the Malware on Mr. Schober’s computer and the subsequent theft of Mr. Schober’s cryptocurrency was devastating for Mr. Schober. He did not eat or sleep for days afterward and has been in a severe state of distress for the past three years. The cryptocurrency accounted for approximately 95% of his net wealth at the time it was stolen from him,” the lawsuit claims.
Schober planned to use the proceeds from the potential sale of the crypto “to help finance a home and support his family,” the document states.
Before filing the lawsuit, Schober had reached out to the men’s parents, and asked them to return the cryptocurrency voluntarily. He reportedly told the parents that it seemed their sons have “been using malware to steal money from people online,” and asked them to give the two men a chance “to make this right, without involving law enforcement.”
The demand was met with silence, leading Schober to have his lawyers file the lawsuit last May. In response, one of the defendants, Hazel D. Wells, has filed a motion to represent both herself and her son instead of hiring an attorney.
Meanwhile, without disputing that the theft took place, the defendants’ attorneys claim that the case is subject to a two-year statute of limitations which has since expired, preventing Schober from pursuing the case.
“Despite his knowledge of his injury and the general cause thereof, Plaintiff waited to file his lawsuit beyond the two and three years required of him by the applicable statutes of limitations. For this reason, Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants should be dismissed,” an attorney for the defendants said in an August 6 filing.
Mark Rasch, a former US prosecutor, commented that he was serving as an attorney in numerous similar lawsuits that involve young men accused of stealing and laundering millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency.
“These crimes can be monumentally difficult and expensive to track down,” Rasch said. “It’s designed to be difficult to do, but it’s also not designed to be impossible to do.”