Kidnappers Demand $10 Million Cryptocurrency Ransom for Norwegian Billionaire’s Wife
Police told the family of Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen to keep the 10-week kidnapping a secret. Now they are begging the public for help.
When 68-year-old Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen disappeared from her home in Lørenskog, Norway, about 12 miles from Oslo, last October 31, police initially told her billionaire husband Tom Hagen to stay quiet.
Hagen, the 172nd richest person in Norway, had apparently come home to an empty house and was worried that he was the perfect target for fake ransom demands by tricksters posing as his wife’s kidnappers. He reportedly showed the police a poorly written ransom note riddled with spelling mistakes asking for $10 million in the cryptocurrency Monero.
The note, which Hagen told authorities he’d found in the couple’s bathroom, reportedly said that his wife would be murdered if police were called. Hagen and his family were told not to pay the money and to wait in silence while the police investigated what they assumed was a kidnapping.
Now, 10 weeks later, the kidnappers are allegedly demanding the money and making serious threats against Mrs. Hagen without giving proof that the pensioner is even alive. “A ransom demand and serious threats have been issued,” chief detective Tommy Brøske told reporters, according to The Guardian. “Our main theory is that the victim was kidnapped by unidentified perpetrators at her home. We have no proof she is alive, but we haven’t received any indication that she isn’t alive either.”
The police have had few clues to chase. The lavish home from which Hagen disappeared did not show signs of forced entry, but police say there was plenty of forensic evidence of a struggle in the master bathroom, where it is likely Hagen tried to hide from her kidnappers.
Hagen himself has to date never been named as a potential suspect in his wife’s disappearance. His considerable wealth comes from a variety of sources. He is a real-estate developer and owns or partially owns a number of businesses including Norwegian energy company Elkraft and Financial Funds. The latter is involved in a lawsuit with a brokerage firm called Pareto and a Russian consultant who represented the steel company Severstal.
The Russian consultant and several of the Pareto employees are being tried for fraud and market manipulation in a sell out that cost Hagen and a business partner more than $4 million, according to the website Cryptocurrency and Market Updates or CCN, citing the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime. Police have made no public connection to the lawsuit and Mrs. Hagen’s disappearance so far.
Press in Norway that had learned of the kidnapping back in early November were initially asked not to publish stories on the incident while Norwegian detectives with the cooperation of Interpol agents carried out investigations into where Mrs. Hagen might be kept or if she was still alive.
Now, the same investigators have asked for help from the press. They are pleading for tips about the woman’s whereabouts and any information the public might have that could lead them to the truth about what happened to the missing woman. Local Norwegian press has reported that investigators have had “limited online contact” with the alleged kidnappers.
On a curious note, on Wednesday morning, police ringed the billionaire’s home with crime-scene tape, even though the forensic evidence would have surely been collected in October when the woman disappeared. Local reporters say it is still considered an active crime scene and that Tom Hagen is not staying there. A representative for Hagen told The Daily Beast that he would not be commenting on the case until it is resolved.