The Karnataka Police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) conducted searches at the residences of three individuals connected to an alleged hacking and Bitcoin bribery scam that took place during the previous BJP government’s tenure in the state.
The SIT carried out raids at the homes of hacker Srikrishna Ramesh (also known as Sriki), 28, and his associates Sunish Hegde, 33, and Prasidh Shetty, 27. These searches were part of the CID’s reinvestigation into multiple cases, including cryptocurrency exchange hacks, online drug purchases with cryptocurrency, and the hacking of a government portal resulting in the theft of Rs 11.5 crore, as per the local media report.
The CID formed this SIT under the new Congress government, which came into power in May of this year, to further investigate these cases that had sparked political controversy. The Congress party blamed top BJP leaders in the state and police officials for receiving kickbacks in cryptocurrency following the arrest of Sriki and his associates in 2020 by the Bengaluru police.
The saga began when the Bengaluru police arrested Srikrishna in November 2020, initially for drug-related charges involving cryptocurrency. This arrest eventually led to additional cases against him and his associates for hacking online poker sites and cryptocurrency exchanges to amass illicit wealth.
Furthermore, Sriki’s arrest revealed his involvement in a July 2019 hacking of the state e-procurement cell, resulting in the theft of Rs 11.5 crore. He confessed to the police that he had been stealing cryptocurrency from international platforms, including the Bitfinex exchange.
While the Enforcement Directorate managed to recover Rs 1.43 crore from the stolen amount in the e-procurement cell case, there hasn’t been significant progress in recovering other funds or cryptocurrencies allegedly stolen by the group from crypto exchanges.
Amid these developments, a police officer involved in the original investigation against the hacker gang approached the Karnataka High Court seeking to dismiss a recent FIR filed by the SIT against unnamed officers from the Bengaluru CCB.
In recent years, cryptocurrency scams have reached their peak, with hackers from across the globe engaging in significant activities that harm investors and innocent people’s trust. Recently, in Ahmedabad, India, an individual named Kuldeep Patel found himself cheated by a woman and lost over Rs 1 crore in cryptocurrency.
In another case, the co-founder of OneCoin, Karl Greenwood, was sentenced to 20 years in prison as his company duped 3.5 million people and collected a staggering $4 billion. Sentencing these criminals is a significant step and also serves as a clear warning to those engaged in fraudulent activities within the cryptocurrency space.