Two men stormed into a Cumbria house brandishing a knife and a gun before forcing their victims to transfer thousands of pounds into a cryptocurrency account.
But their attempts to convert the money into bitcoin failed thanks to a 24-hour authentication process, while the robbers have now been jailed.
The late-night drama unfolded in Carlisle in February 2020, when Jordan Barrett, 23, and Ted Richards, 24, burst into the property wearing a mask and a crash helmet.
Pictures of their two victims, personal details and proof of their identification were taken and used to transfer £3,500.
They forced the pair to create cryptocurrency accounts in an effort to avoid being identified, making the case perhaps the first of its kind in the UK.
Barrett and Richards also stole a Microsoft Xbox and an iPhone from the property before warning the two housemates not to call the police.
One went on to discharge the starter pistol in the street and told their victims to ‘keep their ears open’.
But their efforts were foiled when the incident was reported.
The cash did not make it through as the exchange platform they used had a 24-hour authentication process.
Sentencing the pair at Carlisle Crown Court on Monday, Judge Nicholas Barker told them they had subjected their victims to a ‘terrifying ordeal’ which lasted more than two hours.
He said although the weapon used in the incident on the late evening of February 10 was not capable of firing a shot, the victims believed it was real and that they were in grave danger.
Judge Barker said the background to the robbery was Barrett seeking retribution against a third man who lived at the house, who he believed seriously injured his girlfriend by driving dangerously.
But the Judge said the defendants pressed on with their revenge mission despite discovering that their target was not home alone.
Both victims are suffering ‘significant heightened anxiety’ as a result of their actions, he added.
Financial investigators and detectives launched a lengthy and complex investigation following the incident.
When officers searched Barrett’s home in Red Bank Square, Carlisle, they discovered the starting pistol – bought online for £150 – a bullet press for blank shells and blank ammunition.
Judge Barker said he accepted both defendants’ declarations of remorse were genuine.
Neither had previous convictions and both told the judge they would not come before the courts again.
Richards, of Southwark, London, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to robbery and false imprisonment.
Barrett, who entered guilty pleas at a later date, was jailed for six years and nine months for the same offences.
Following the sentencing, detective superintendant Jenny Beattie, of Cumbria Police, said: ‘The determination shown by the investigation team has been unwavering in carrying out the inquiries which has led to a successful conviction.
‘The team’s efforts are particularly impressive given the circumstances of how the criminals forced the victims to create cryptocurrency accounts, so they could attempt to evade identification, is believed to be a first to be put before a court in this country.’
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