World News

Suspected kidnappers demand $15.5 million ransom for Norwegian millionaire's wife

Suspected kidnappers demand $15.5 million ransom for Norwegian millionaire's wife

The demand is also one of the reasons for the police to believe that this could be a kidnapping case.

Mr Hagen, 68, has made an estimated 1.7bn Norwegian kronor (£156m) from Elkraft, the power supply company he founded, ranking him 172nd on the Norway rich list by Kapital, a financial magazine.

Monero [XMR], a popular privacy coin in the market, is in the limelight as the cryptocurrency is demanded as ransom by kidnappers in Norway.

Police have been investigating the case discreetly for several weeks but decided to make it public in the hope someone would come forward with information, Brøske said.

The house (C) of Norwegian real estate investor Tom Hagen and his wife Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, who according to the authorities is suspected to have been kidnapped, in Fjellhamar, Norway, Jan. 9, 2019.

Chief police investigator Tommy Broeske said one of the men was seen walking on a road before turning around and going back down the road immediately.

Kidnappers in Norway demand $10M Monero ransom for millionaire's wife
Criminals Demand $10 Million in Monero (XMR) in Norwegian Kidnapping Case

Police were due to give a press conference on the matter later Wednesday.

The ransom payment was requested in the cryptocurrency monero to make it harder to trace a transaction, dailies Aftenposten and VG reported.

Broeske said "those behind have chosen to communicate digitally and we have had no other type of contact". This method of payment would theoretically, and unnervingly, allow the kidnappers to receive the money easily and anonymously, avoiding marked bills or other hazards the traditional ransomer had to contend with.

'Our main theory is that the victim was kidnapped by unidentified perpetrators at her home. Norwegian police have urged Falkevik Hagen's family to not pay the ransom because transactions made in Monero usually can not be traced. We have no suspects in this case'.

"A ransom demand and serious threats have been issued", Insp Tommy Brøske told reporters.

NRK says the couple live a "secluded lifestyle" in Lorenskog, east of Oslo, describing Tom Hagen as "media-shy and private". Norwegian police have also engaged worldwide counterparts in Interpol and Europol as part of the probe.

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