The attackers took 18 bitcoins worth NT$5 million from the victim. File photo: AFP

The attackers took 18 bitcoins worth NT$5 million from the victim. File photo: AFP

Taiwan police have arrested four men over a bitcoin robbery worth NT$5 million in what they said was the first case of its kind on the island.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code that allows anonymous transactions and its value has soared since it came into being in 2009.

Taiwan police said three men in their early twenties lured a man surnamed Tai to the central city of Taichung, pretending to be interested in buying bitcoins.

After Tai showed proof of his bitcoins on his phone, the scammers assaulted him and his friend, then transferred 18 bitcoins worth NT$5 million from Tai’s account via his phone.

Localist Edward Leung and four others defendants are accused of rioting over the Lunar New Year holiday 2016. File photo: RTHK

The suspects attempted to pass off the heist as a drunken row by forcing the victim to drink Kaoliang, a strong Taiwanese liquor, Taichung city police said in a statement. Police arrived at the scene after receiving a call about a dispute and one man was detained. The other two had fled.

“The police saw bloodstains at the scene… after further investigation, it was discovered to be a bitcoin virtual currency robbery,” police said. It described the case, which happened earlier this month, as “the first domestic case of bitcoin robbery”.

The two other suspects were later arrested, one on the outlying island of Kinmen where he had gone to escape police. The fourth man, surnamed Shih, believed to be the mastermind behind the robbery, was also detained. (AFP)

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