Scam accused moved bitcoins into offline wallets, says SIT

1 views 7:49 am 0 Comments February 7, 2024

Police inspector Prashanth Babu and cybercrime expert Santosh Kumar, arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the bitcoin scam, allegedly dumped some of the bitcoins in the possession of hacker Srikrishna alias Sriki into three cryptocurrency hardware wallets, a document accessed by The Hindu show. The document, however, makes no mention of the number of coins moved into offline storage devices by the accused.

Santosh Kumar who is the chief executive officer (CEO) of GCID Technologies Pvt. Ltd., sent one of his associates to Surat, Gujarat, to buy three hardware wallets, also known as nano ledgers to download the currencies from the wallets of Sriki and his associate Robin Kandelwal, SIT claims. Of the three hardware wallets, one was handed over to Prashanth Babu, police inspector, Technical Support Centre, Adugodi, SIT alleges. Both Prashanth Babu and Santosh Kumar are in the SIT custody.

Three inspectors booked

The SIT has also booked three inspectors Lakshmikanthaiah, Chandradhar, and Shridhar K. Pujar, who were with the Central Crime Branch (CCB), Bengaluru city police, when Sriki was in their custody. These officers along with the two other accused already arrested, besides keeping Sriki and Robin in illegal custody allegedly helped move bitcoins to certain ‘private individuals’. However, the document does not identify these individuals.

In the remand petition accessed by The Hindu, the SIT said Santosh Kumar first analysed digital mirror images of the electronic devices recovered from Sriki and Robin before transferring bitcoins. After that, he allegedly bought offline wallets and on January 16, 2021, “many” bitcoins were downloaded into these wallets, the SIT alleges.

According to a police officer, a hardware wallet is a physical device that securely guards a crypto user’s private cryptographic keys, ready to be used online for completing a crypto transaction. The device can be carried anywhere and transactions done from any part of the world.

In illegal custody 

The CCB officers who investigated Sriki and Robin in multiple cases also held them in illegal custody. The remand petition claims that then CCB inspector Shridhar Pujar kept Robin in illegal custody between November 11 and 30, 2020, at CAR Central Guest House. He is accused of creating documents to show his arrest from a bus stop at Jayanagar on November 30. 

On the other hand, in a drug case, Sriki (accused number 10) was allegedly kept in illegal custody between November 14 and 17, 2020, at CAR Central Guest House. But Shridhar Pujar allegedly later showed his arrest from Hebbal.