In Karnataka, a Bitcoin storm is threatening to uproot many political heavyweights. An accused international hacker detained by the authorities has revealed the transfer of Bitcoins worth thousands of crores into the accounts of some of the state’s most powerful politicians.
Sri Krishna, who is in his twenties, was arrested by Bengaluru police in early 2018 in connection with a fatal attack on a young man at a high-end pub. Mohammed Nalapad, the son of Congress MLA NA Haris, is the primary defendant in this case. Sri Krishna, a cunning hacker, had eluded the cops for nearly two years before being apprehended.
He told them about his “enterprise,” according to the cops. Sri Krishna claims to have hacked two cryptocurrency exchanges and taken 5,000 Bitcoins valued more than Rs 2,000 crore or $.269,573. He further surprised the police by confessing that he hacked various government websites and altered hundreds of crores worth of tenders. His alleged cyber scams are also being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
He was reportedly forced to deposit the Bitcoins into the accounts of several key BJP politicians, according to unsubstantiated sources. Some police officers’ apparent involvement has also been questioned. Siddaramaiah, the opposition leader, has taken on the government of Basavaraj Bommai, seeking explanations and a thorough investigation into the shady dealings. “I have come to know that some top people in the government hold Bitcoins. How did they get them? I demand answers. The BJP should come clean about this huge scam.”
A startled government is scrambling for cover, insisting that the allegations are unfounded and that no one from the BJP is involved. “We have nothing to do with this. The allegations are motivated. The entire hacking scam is being investigated by not just state police, but also by the central agencies like IT and ED. The truth will come out, once the investigation is over.“
Bommai, the chief minister, is taking the same stance. Araga Jnanendra, the state home minister, has refuted allegations that the FBI had arrived in Bengaluru to question Sri Krishna about alleged cyber thefts against US-based corporations.
The Congress, on the other hand, claims that the BJP is attempting to keep the subject quiet in order to protect its top officials. A senior police source familiar with the situation denied media claims about the Bitcoin con. He said that these are Sri Krishna’s statements, for which he has yet to offer proof.
Nalapad assaulted Vidwath, a young man, in an affluent pub in the city in early 2018. He was then imprisoned for more than two months before being freed on bail. On that night, Sri Krishna was also with Nalapad. He departed Bengaluru after the incident, eluding the authorities for more than two years.
Srikrishna Ramesh aka Sriki, the main suspect in the infamous Bitcoin case, broke into several cryptocurrency trading sites and stole thousands of bitcoins over the last five to six years.
The accused also hacked into various poker gaming platforms and illegally won cash awards, according to the charge sheet obtained by DH. He is also suspected of extorting numerous crores by installing ransomware on a few poker gaming portals.
After being promoted as the moderator of a hacking community, Sriki, a blackhat hacker, began hacking computers during his high school days. Over the next decade, he developed skill in breaking into various bitcoin-trading websites in nations such as the United States, France, and Bangladesh.
Sriki had no bank accounts, and all of his bitcoin and other hacking-related transactions were routed through Robin Khandelwal, another defendant. Sriki said in a police statement that he gave Robin bitcoins worth more than Rs 8 crore and that he had private keys to more bitcoins he stole in his cloud account.
BTC2pm.me, a website where people exchange bitcoins for money, Havelock Investment, a stock trading platform for bitcoin users, Paytiz, a Bangladeshi exchange, MPEX, an illegal cryptocurrency trading platform for bitcoin users, and Mixexchage, a Ukrainian platform are among the websites hacked by the accused.
While it is unclear how much money Sriki made by hacking into other websites, he claimed to have infiltrated a game called RuneScape when he was a youngster and made roughly $1 million.
His first bitcoin exchange attack was on Bitfinex, when he stole 2,000 bitcoins worth between $100 and $200 each at the time (Rs 7,000 – 14,000). One bitcoin is currently worth $61,236 (about Rs 45.83 lakh).
Sriki also made off with $3-3.5 million from the Bitcointalk.org, BTC-e.com, and Bitcentral exchanges. According to him, all of the money earned in this case was spent on drugs and a lavish lifestyle.