According to Indian media, eleven people were involved in a kidnapping and bitcoin extortion ring, and of the accused ten are police officers, including an Inspector. Three victims were abducted and beaten until they allegedly gave up 200 bitcoin worth over one million dollars USD.
Police Arrested in India Bitcoin Extortion Conspiracy
Director of India’s Crime Investigation Department (CID), Ashish Bhatia, announced, “Two policemen — constables Babu Der and Vijay Vadher — were arrested on Sunday. All other accused have gone underground. Efforts are on to nab them.” Mr. Bhatia was referring to a scheme involving upwards of nearly a dozen police officers, including an Inspector, in a violent extortion and kidnapping plot that might have ended in 200 bitcoin (over one million dollars) being stolen.
This has become rather commonplace in India over the past few months, especially as bitcoin’s price began to rise. In fact, “This is the second such incident in [same part of India] in the last one month. On March 11, two policemen — Anisuddin Saiyed and Chintan Shah were arrested for abducting a businessman and demanding ransom from him in bitcoins. Last June, a group of six people [were] arrested on the charge of abducting and demanding ransom in bitcoins from a businessman in the northern city of Mohali. In September, police had arrested six other persons for kidnapping, beating and robbing a New Delhi businessman who had gone to meet them in order to pay for Bitcoin in cash,” Sputnik News explained.
Officials are accused of kidnapping three victims, one of whom is a prominent businessman, Shailesh Bhatt. They were driven to a farm, beaten, and forced to transfer 200 bitcoin. Mr. Bhatia continued, “We checked the records and learnt that the use of police vehicles was unauthorized. The team did not follow the procedure of informing Amreli or Gandhinagar Police. The trio was released after an alleged deal. Ketan Patel, a resident of Surat, had come to Magodi at the behest of Anant Patel and played an important role in the deal,” Times of India reports. Mr. Anant Patel is the force’s Inspector who is also reportedly in hiding.
An equivalent to an indictment, called a First Information Report (FIR), was filed by the CID “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,” Mr. Bhatia noted.
“At the moment, three persons including two from Amreli police and a private individual from Surat have been apprehended in the case as a special investigation team has been formed for further probe. Digital wallets of [the victims] will also be scrutinized,” the Times quotes an investigator.