Gang assaults founder of social network Tuenti in his Madrid home in apparent attempt to steal bitcoin fortune

American entrepreneur Zaryn Dentzel told police he was in his apartment with a technician when the assailants forced their way in, injuring him in the chest in a bid to get hold of his passwords

Tuenti founder Zaryn Dentzel in a file photo.
Tuenti founder Zaryn Dentzel in a file photo.

A group of hooded assailants on Tuesday entered the Madrid home of the founder of social network Tuenti, Zaryn Dentzel, in an apparent bid to steal his bitcoin fortune. That’s according to the American entrepreneur himself, who reported the incident to police after they were called to his apartment. As was first reported by online Spanish daily El Español and later confirmed to EL PAÍS by police sources, Dentzel was left with a cut to his chest and was beaten by the criminal gang in a bid to obtain the passwords of his bank accounts and electronic wallets. The Tuenti founder is yet to file a formal report at a police station.

Dentzel, 38, made Spain his home in the mid-2000s, when he decided to create a social network in Spain for young people called Tuenti, after having spent time as a student in the Extremadura region learning Spanish during his university years. His social network ended up counting on millions of users and was acquired by Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica in 2010 for €70 million. He stayed at the helm of the company after the sale. In 2016 the social network itself was closed and Tuenti remained as a telecommunications operator.

According to the account recorded by police officers based on the victim’s testimony, he was in his home on Tuesday with a maintenance technician when the doorbell rang. He opened it to find “four or five” hooded men who covered up the security cameras with items of clothing as soon as they entered the property. They also covered his eyes and began to beat him, according to his account.

The incident began at around 3pm and lasted for several hours, according to Dentzel. After the assault, the gang left the house. Police were called by a neighbor who had heard shouts. Dentzel told officers that he had heard them take items with them but that he was unable at that moment to determine how many were missing or their value. The officers confirmed that the entrepreneur was left with a small wound on his chest.

The National Police in Madrid have taken charge of the investigation, which is ongoing and has so far not seen any arrests. The officers who were in the house took samples as well as statements and images that will allow for the facts of the case to be established.

The Tuenti founder divides his time between the Californian city of Santa Bárbara in the United States, and Madrid. He returned to Spain just a few weeks ago after spending a period in his home country. The property where the incident took place is located in Ruiz de Alarcón street, and is a penthouse apartment next to the Prado Museum with impressive views of Retiro Park.

The entrepreneur has been investing in bitcoin for several years and his fortune in this virtual currency could be worth millions of euros. As such, his accounts are likely to be protected with more levels of security than just a password.

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