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Karnataka SIT probing Bitcoin scam from BJP era searches homes of hacker Sriki, 2 associates | Bangalore News | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


A senior CID official said searches were carried out Tuesday by the SIT at locations linked to three main accused in the Bitcoin scam cases from 2019 to 2021, which were ordered to be further investigated by a CID SIT constituted by the Congress government after it came to power in the state in May this year.

Karnataka SIT, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Special Investigation Team (SIT), India news, Indian express, Indian express India news, Indian express India“There is information about the involvement of influential politicians of Karnataka in the drugs & Bitcoin scam. It is concerning that the investigating officers are trying to close the case to help those politicians,” the then opposition leader Siddaramaiah, who is now the chief minister, said on social media in October 2021 in an apparent reference to hacker Sriki and his associates.

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A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Karnataka Police Tuesday carried out searches at the homes of three persons linked to an alleged hacking and Bitcoin bribery scam that occurred during the tenure of the erstwhile BJP government in the state.

The SIT raids were conducted at the home of hacker Srikrishna Ramesh alias Sriki, 28, and his associates Sunish Hegde, 33, and Prasidh Shetty, 27, in connection with the reinvestigation by the CID of multiple cases of hacking of cryptocurrency exchanges, poker sites, online purchase of drugs with cryptocurrency, and the hacking of a government portal to steal Rs 11.5 crore.

A senior CID official said searches were carried out Tuesday by the SIT at locations linked to three main accused in the Bitcoin scam cases from 2019 to 2021, which were ordered to be further investigated by a CID SIT constituted by the Congress government after it came to power in the state in May this year.

The alleged Bitcoin scam cases involving hacker Sriki and his associates have been at the centre of a political controversy in Karnataka with the Congress alleging that top leaders of the state BJP and police officials received kickbacks in cryptocurrency after the arrest of the hacker and his associates in 2020 by the Bengaluru police.

“Earlier when the BJP was in power a Bitcoin scam running into lakhs of rupees is reported to have occurred through virtual transfers with several people involved in the transactions and that the issue was hushed up without proper investigations,” Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara said while announcing further investigations in the hacking cases.

In November 2020, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the Bengaluru police stumbled on the suspected possession of a large quantity of Bitcoin by Srikrishna following his arrest in a case of procuring drugs over the darknet using cryptocurrency.

The investigations in the drug case led to the CCB filing cases against the hacker and his associates for allegedly hacking online poker sites and cryptocurrency exchanges to acquire wealth through illegal means.

The arrest of the hacker in November 2020 in the drug case by the CCB also revealed his ‘role’ in a July 2019 hacking of the state e-procurement cell in which Rs 11.5 crore was stolen. Sriki told the police after his arrest that he was involved in stealing cryptocurrency from international sites including virtual crypto exchanges like the Bitfinex exchange.

While Rs 1.43 crore of the Rs 11.5 crore stolen from the e-procurement cell has been recovered by the Enforcement Directorate, there has been no other major recovery of funds or cryptocurrency that was allegedly stolen by the gang from crypto exchanges.

The SIT searches Tuesday were carried out even as a police officer involved in the original investigation against the hacker gang approached the Karnataka High Court to quash a recent FIR filed by the SIT against unnamed officers of the Bengaluru CCB.

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The police officer, Sridhar Poojar, who was the investigating officer in one of the original hacking cases filed in 2020 against Srikrishna and his associates, has sought the quashing of an FIR filed last month by the CID against CCB officials for allegedly tampering with electronic evidence collected when Srikrishna alias Sriki and his associates were arrested in 2020.

Children of several politicians cutting across party lines in Karnataka are known to have been associated with Srikrishna. According to court records, Srikrishna was often housed in five-star hotels by his affluent associates to carry out his hacking activities.

“There is information about the involvement of influential politicians of Karnataka in the drugs & Bitcoin scam. It is concerning that the investigating officers are trying to close the case to help those politicians,” the then opposition leader Siddaramaiah, who is now the chief minister, said on social media in October 2021 in an apparent reference to hacker Sriki and his associates.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

First published on: 12-09-2023 at 23:22 IST

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