Tue, Apr 17, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Bitcoin dispute ends in gunfire, grazed feet

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

New Taipei City police on Saturday night took four men into custody following a shooting incident at Long Hua Hall funeral service company, allegedly over a dispute stemming from a bitcoin investment scheme.

Kao Chi-tang (高啟唐), 32, the key suspect in the case, and another 32-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳), were both armed with handguns when they and two other men, surnamed Chiang (江) and Tang (湯), went to Long Hua Hall about 7:30pm on Saturday, police said on Sunday.

There they met a 35-year-old man surnamed Wu (吳) and his friend surnamed Chang (張).

After a brief exchange of words between the two groups, Kao and Chen allegedly pulled out their guns and opened fire, firing a total of seven shots, investigators said.

“Wu and Chang both suffered minor injuries to their feet, which were grazed by bullets,” Sinhai Police Station chief Wang Ming-tang (王明堂) said. “They were taken to a local hospital for treatment.”

“During questioning, Kao and Chen admitted to opening fire, but said they were only trying to warn Wu, not kill him, which is why they aimed at the floor,” Wang said.

The pistols taken from Kao and Chen were a modified Beretta M9 and a modified Taurus PT92, which use 9mm ammunition, Wang said.

Background checks suggest that Kao and Chen are members of organized crime gangs from the municipality’s Tamsui District (淡水), as they have criminal records for possession of illegal firearms, attempted murder and other crimes, police said.

The pair are reportedly involved in real-estate development firms, while Wu works in information technology and software businesses.

“Kao reportedly pooled together about NT$10 million [US$339,847 at the current exchange rate] from friends to invest in shares of a bitcoin mining scheme that Wu told him would earn good profits,” Wang said.

However, the profits did not materialize, and Kao allegedly demanded his money back, meeting with Wu several times without coming to an arrangement for repayment, police said.

Police quoted Wu as saying the situation was outside of his control, since the price of bitcoin slumped earlier this year following the Chinese government’s announcement that it would impose restrictions on cryptocurrency trading.

The slump meant the investment had not been able to turn a profit yet, but he was not trying to cheat Kao or the other investors, and Kao had misunderstood the situation, Wu told police.

Police said they intended to file charges of attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms against Kao, Chen, Chiang and Tang.

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