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Mastermind behind Bitcoin heist escapes prison, may have fled to Sweden

April 19, 2018  |  Posted by: Michael Falzarano
Mastermind behind Bitcoin heist escapes prison, may have fled to Sweden

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Authorities say Sindri Thor Stefansson, the suspect behind the theft of 600 bitcoiin mining computers has likely fled to Sweden after breaking out of a prison in Iceland.

Swedish police officials said Wednesday that Icelandic police have briefed them on the situation and an international arrest warrant has been issued for Stefansson.

Police spokesman Stefan Dangardt said Sindri Thor Stefansson fled a minimum-security prison through a window and managed to board a flight to Sweden at Iceland’s international airport in Keflavik.

Icelandic authorities said it was unlikely that Stefansson wasn’t required to present a passport at the airport since he traveled within Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel zone but the plane ticket he used was under someone else’s name.

Although Iceland is non-European Union member, the nation does belong to Europe’s borderless travel area.

Stefansson and 11 other suspects were taken into custody for allegedly stealing the powerful computers in a series of four burglaries in December and January in what is considered Iceland’s biggest-ever heist, according to CBS News.

The stolen equipment, which still is missing, has been valued at almost $2 million. Icelandic media have the case the “Big Bitcoin Heist.” If used for its original purpose — to create new bitcoins — the thieves could turn a massive profit in an untraceable currency.

Police have arrested 22 people altogether, including a security guard, without solving the burglaries.

The escaped prisoner was being held at the Sogn prison in rural southern Iceland, 95 kilometers (59 miles) from the airport. The prison is unfenced and inmates have telephone and internet access.

Stefansson had been in custody since February. He was subsequently tranferred to the open prison 10 days ago, police said.

“He had an accomplice,” Police Chief Gunnar Schram told Visir, an online news outlet in Iceland. “We are sure of that.”

A passenger on the same flight to Sweden as the inmate told national broadcaster RUV that Iceland’s prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, was also on that flight.

Jakobsdottir was among five Nordic prime ministers who met with India’s prime minister Tuesday in Stockholm.

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