A group of police officers in India have been arrested for an alleged Bitcoin extortion plot where they kidnapped and beat a businessman for his cryptocurrency.
It seems that crimes associated with cryptocurrency just continues to rise. Each week brings new media reports of ransomware attacks and cryptojacking. There have also been quite a few incidents of face-to-face criminal attacks over cryptocurrency, which usually ends in the police being called in. However, what to do when the perpetrators of a Bitcoin extortion scheme are the police? Such is the case in an incident in India.
Bitcoin and Being ‘Thrashed Mercilessly’
Two weeks after a complaint was made to law enforcement, police from the Gujarat Police CID Crime division has arrested a number of policemen from the Amreli LCB (Local Crime Branch). So far, three people, including a policeman and an inspector, have been taken into custody.
The complaint was made by businessman Shailesh Bhatt, who says he, a friend, and his driver were kidnapped from a gas station by a group of policemen from the Amreli LCB. The victims were then taken to a nearby farm, Keshav Farm, where they were held for 4 to 5 hours and ‘thrashed mercilessly’ (beaten) until Bhatt agreed to transfer 200 bitcoins (worth $ 1.3 million) to them, allegedly to the phone of Police Inspector Anant Patel.
The victim, Bhatt, was then forced to pay out more money. According to Ashish Bhatia, the investigator leading the probe, states:
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 [$ 4.9 million USD] were allegedly paid for their release from a farmhouse. Later, Rs 78.5 lakh [$ 120,000 USD] were allegedly paid to get the Bitcoins back. All these transactions mentioned in the application could not be proven.
Investigating Dirty Cops
The Gujarat Police CID Crime division spent two weeks investigating the complaint that was made against nine members of law enforcement and two other individuals. The investigators then raided the offices and homes of the alleged perpetrators. As stated above, three of the accused have been taken into custody, but the remainder are on the run.
So far, police have not found any evidence of the Bitcoin transactions taking place, but they’re still combing through the digital wallets of those involved. However, they have traced the Rs 32 crore ($ 5.2 million USD) transaction.
This just goes to show how far some people will go to get money, and cryptocurrency is just another avenue they can use. The fact that crypto can be quickly and easily transferred is, sadly, often an inducement to criminals. However, the fact that every transaction is stored on the blockchain and can be tracked allows such criminals to be caught and prosecuted.
Do you worry about ever being the victim of a Bitcoin robbery or extortion attempt? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay and Bitcoin archives.