Gujarat Police Officers Behind Bitcoin Extortion Scheme Get Arrested
The Crime Investigation Department (CID) from Gujarat has arrested 10 police officers who are accused of kidnapping and extorting a businessman of bitcoins.
The accused are alleged to have kidnapped a businessman and forced him to pay a ransom of around 200 Bitcoins which is the equivalent to $1.35 million under current prices.
A First Information Report has been filed by the CID branch. This is the first step when doing investigations in India and means that the CID has started the process of prosecuting these 10 officers. The 10 police personnel are alleged to be working with one civilian fixer for the group. The arrested police officers include nine constables and their superior, a police inspector by the name of Anant Patel.
Bitcoin has gained a lot of attention in the last 12 months and even though the value of bitcoin has more than halved during the first quarter of 2018, investors from all over the world are still interested in acquiring the popular cryptocurrency. It now appears that the Indian police force in Gujarat are also interested in getting their hands on bitcoins – no matter what the cost.
The complaint was filed by the victim Shailesh Batt who accuses the 10 police personnel of kidnapping him and his associate Kirit Paladiya along with their driver. They were taken to a remote farmhouse and then beaten until they transferred around 200 bitcoins to them. Once the bitcoin transfer was completed, they were warned and later released.
CID To Check If 200 Bitcoins Were Transferred
The investigation into the matter has just commenced and so far there has been no confirmation that 200 bitcoins were transferred. The police are moving to examine both the Bitcoin wallets in question to check for proof.
In a statement, Ashish Bhatia, CID director general said
The FIR has been filed on the basis of evidence found by the team so far. In his application, Shailesh Bhatt had mentioned the transfer of 200 Bitcoins worth Rs 12 crore from the digital wallet of his business partner, Kirit Paladiya. Another Rs 32 crore were allegedly paid for their release from a farmhouse. Later, Rs 78.5 lakh were allegedly paid to get the Bitcoins back. All these transactions mentioned in the application could not be proven.
Though the Bitcoin transfer has not been verified, officials have confirmed that the policemen used their department vehicles in an unauthorized manner. A full Special Investigative Team has been formed to ensure that the investigation is done properly. Three of the constables have been arrested, while Patel and six of the accused constables are currently on the run. This is the second such incident involving Bitcoin extortion in recent months.. On March 11, two policemen were arrested for abducting a businessman and keeping him for Bitcoin ransom.