Buyseotools Trading Karnataka Bitcoin scam: Inspector, cyber expert sent to CID custody till Jan 31 | Bengaluru

Karnataka Bitcoin scam: Inspector, cyber expert sent to CID custody till Jan 31 | Bengaluru

Karnataka Bitcoin scam: Inspector, cyber expert sent to CID custody till Jan 31 | Bengaluru post thumbnail image



Bengaluru A police inspector and a cyber expert have been remanded in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) until January 31 in connection with the Bitcoin scam, officials said on Friday.

The case pertains to the alleged Bitcoin scam which came to the fore in 2020. (REUTERS)

The accused were arrested on January 24, and sent to custody the next day.

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The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of CID, probing the scam, presented accused inspector Prashanth Babu and cyber expert Santhosh Kumar KS before the first additional chief metropolitan magistrate court

Director general of police (DGP), Inspector General, Alok Mohan stated, “The CID-SIT arrested two people — inspector Prashanth Babu from the Technical Support Centre and cyber expert Santhosh Kumar KS, CEO of GCID Technologies Pvt Ltd. A probe is underway.”

An FIR has been lodged under IPC sections 343 (wrongful confinement), 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant), 426 (mischief), 34 (common intention), 36 (omission), 37 (cooperation in crime), 201 (destruction of evidence), and 204 (destruction of documentary evidence).

The case pertains to the alleged Bitcoin scam which came to the fore in 2020. There were allegations that several senior BJP leaders, including the then Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai, were allegedly involved in laundering ‘ill-gotten money through cryptocurrencies’ with the help of a Bengaluru-based hacker, Srikrishna aka Sriki.

The Central Crime Branch (CCB) police had arrested Sriki on November 18, 2020, in a drug peddling case. He had allegedly bought drugs from international dealers using bitcoins on the dark web, police said. During the questioning, the CCB found that the software engineer-turned hacker was also involved in a series of online crimes.

Sriki confessed to being part of a group of hackers that broke into a cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex on August 2, 2016. They collectively stole 120,000 Bitcoins, worth around 72 million.

The issue became political when allegations came up against the Bengaluru police that they had information about his involvement in the Bitcoin hack in December 2020 but did not reveal this information to central agencies until August 2021.

Apart from Babu, the SIT also lodged an FIR against inspectors Lakshmikanthaiah, Chandradhar, and Shridhar K Pujar— all of them are associated with the CCB wing in Bengaluru — in connection with the Bitcoin scam. The trio are being questioned but haven’t been arrested yet.

Babu has been accused of buying a computer for 60,000, which was employed in hacking websites. Technical analysis by the SIT said Kumar remotely operated the laptop, accessed Sriki’s Amazon server, and “erased historical data and evidence”.

Officials said, Babu and cyber expert Santhosh Kumar KS have also been accused of orchestrating the transfer of Bitcoins, amounting to over 2.8 lakh, from their accounts to Kumar’s account in instalments.

Inspectors Lakshmikantaiah and Chandradhar had facilitated this transaction by escorting the accused Sriki to Kumar’s lab.

According to the FIR, Pujar who is presently serving as DSP, has been accused of keeping Sriki in unlawful custody for three days, and also detaining Sriki’s associate Robin Khandelwal illegally for four days.

The FIR has further implicated the four officers in two additional cases filed in 2020 — in Ashok Nagar and Bengaluru City Cybercrime police stations. One of the cases involves complainant Yashoda Devi who has alleged that she was “deceived into investing in the Bitcoin trade”. In the second case, Sriki has been charged with stealing data from gaming sites.

The officers reportedly took Sriki and Khandelwal unofficially to GCID Technologies Private Limited, where Kumar participated in the inquiry and later engaged in unauthorised transactions, allegedly stealing fractions of Bitcoin.


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