S'porean allegedly kidnapped, tortured & nearly buried alive in Thailand over bitcoins

He managed to get back most of his money.

Joshua Lee | January 14, 2020, 12:49 AM

A Singaporean man was allegedly kidnapped by another Singaporean and held hostage for bitcoins.

Mark Cheng Jin Quan, 32, a co-founder of a non-governmental organisation, arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok with another Singaporean, Lee Wei Kim, 31, on Jan. 9 and boarded a taxi.

Travelled to Bangkok to talk about technology

According to The Straits Times, both men did not know each other for long.

Speaking to Lianhe Wanbao, Cheng, who is a software developer, said that Lee had invited him to Bangkok to meet a friend who is interested in technology and bitcoins.

After an hour, the taxi reached a petrol station on Suwintawong Road in Chachoengsao province.

Cheng told Lianhe Wanbao that he and Lee were apprehended by four or five masked men and transferred to a black car.

Cheng claimed that he was then blindfolded and hooded before he was drugged.

A black hood was used to cover Cheng's head before he was driven to Kabin Buri, a district in Prachin Buri, which is about 135km east of Bangkok, reported ST.

Subjected to torture

Cheng was beaten and tortured by his captors. According to Lianhe Wanbao, Cheng was subjected to electric torture, doused in ice water, and kicked and punched.

His captors demanded US$1 million worth of bitcoins, he told Lianhe Wanbao.

Cheng would eventually only hand over about 1.4 million baht (S$62,456) worth of bitcoins to his captors, according to ST.

However, Lianhe Wanbao reported that his captors demanded more and intended to shoot him.

At one point, Cheng believed that his captors planned to bury him alive, he later recounted to the Chinese paper.

Blindfolded, he heard them using tools to dig what he guessed was in a forested area.

"I could even smell the soil. I knew they were going to bury me alive," he told the Chinese daily.

Escaped on Jan. 10

Lianhe Wanbao reported that Cheng managed to escape and he found a police station on Jan. 10.

There, he reported his case.

A police manhunt was launched and Lee was arrested two days later in a Bangkok hotel, reported ST.

"The police told me that the person who planned my kidnapping was the friend who came to Thailand with me. That really shocked me!" he told Lianhe Wanbao.

Lee was charged with robbery, detention of others, physical assault and illegal possession of firearms.

This last charge could earn him a life sentence.

Lee confessed to all the charges and Cheng had 1.2 million baht (S$53,526) returned to him.

Top image via Queen's Young Leaders and The Pink Lookbook.

[Edit: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Cheng and Lee boarded a Grab private-hire car in Bangkok. It has been corrected.]