It appears Bitcoin ATMs are being targeted by a group of hammer-wielding criminals. To be more precise, both the Detroit and Chicago areas have seen an increasing number of physical attacks against teller machines.
It is unclear what the reason for this behavior is, although rumors suggest this may have to do with competing companies trying to remove the competition by sheer force. Although Bitcoin ATMs are more secure than bank counterparts, taking a hammer to it will still render the machine useless.
Attacking A Bitcoin ATM With A Hammer Is Not OK
A total of four suspects has been named as the ones responsible for these assaults against Bitcoin ATMs. In fact, a lawsuit has been filed against these three individuals, one of whom used to run his own Bitcoin ATM network. Under the name MT Group, the Bitcoin initiative was somewhat successful, before it was bought out by Bitexpress.
SandP Solutions, Inc brought the lawsuit in question to the Northern Illinois District Court. Their claim mentions how three brothers are responsible for running a Bitcoin ATM bashing scheme. They are allegedly operating a grow of criminals who bash screens of competing Bitcoin ATMs with a hammer.
This move is designed to put the competing service providers out of business. Moreover, the lawsuit also claims how several ATM owners have been threatened, and “protection money” has been demanded. Replacing a broken Bitcoin ATM can set te owner back up to US$15,000, and paying a ransom may appear to be more appealing when feeling threatened.
So far, nearly eight dozen Bitcoin ATMs have had their screens bashed in with hammers and other blunt objects. That is quite a troublesome number, although the total tally could have been much higher. Coordinating these large-scale efforts is not easy, and the suspects allegedly use a communication platform that automatically destroys messages once they are read. It remains unclear which platform that is, though.
It is evident the Bitcoin ATM business is becoming very competitive, with larger players buying out the smaller competitors. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is only to be expected, such a decision would not sit well with some operators. Then again, they are free to continue competing if they want to. Resorting to criminal activity is never the answer. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this ongoing lawsuit for sure.
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