We never had, hackers deceived us: Bengaluru Police on ‘disappearance’ of bitcoin

Faced with questions over the “disappearance” of 31 bitcoins, Bengaluru police now say they were duped by alleged hacker Srikrishna Ramesh – and publicly declaring – that he took Rs 9 crore from his personal electronic wallet. The cryptocurrency was confiscated.

The police’s Central Crime Branch unit issued the statement on Saturday night in the wake of suspicions of corruption in handling bitcoins allegedly found with hackers in January.

These allegations have shaken BJP Government in Karnataka for the last few days

The opposition Congress has sought answers on the whereabouts of more than 5,000 bitcoins linked to the alleged hacker and accused police of carrying out a massive cover-up.

The Bengaluru Crime Branch police said in an official note that the “account claimed by the accused as his personal account” with 31 bitcoins was in fact “live wallet of an exchange”, for which Ramesh alias Sriki had a personal account. was not. key. Police said they realized then that the 26-year-old had misled them into believing they had confiscated 31 bitcoins.

“It is stated that neither any bitcoins were transferred from Ramesh’s account, nor any bitcoins were lost. It is true that it was deemed necessary to open a bitcoin account for the purpose of cryptocurrency investigation. Accordingly, a bitcoin account was Received a government order dated 08.12.2020 for opening,” the police statement said.

“During the seizure process, accused Ramesh showed a BTC wallet containing 31.8 BTC. The password of the wallet was changed in the presence of cyber experts, government panchnamas and the entire process was recorded under Mahjar and presented in the court.

“Later, permission of the court was obtained to use the password to transfer the said bitcoins to the police wallet account. On accessing the said wallet shown by the accused Srikrishna, he showed 186.811 bitcoins, the police said.

“On enquiry, cyber experts stated that the said account claimed by the accused as his personal account was actually a live wallet of an exchange and the accused did not have a private key for the same. Therefore, the said account was left untouched and as a result, no bitcoins were transferred to the Police Wallet,” the police statement said.

Ramesh was arrested by the Bengaluru Crime Branch police in November 2020 for buying drugs from the darknet through bitcoin. After his arrest, he told the police that he was a hacker.

In January, police announced the seizure of 31 stolen bitcoins from Ramesh’s possession, but the seizure was not shown when multiple chargesheets were filed against the hacker in February.

The Bengaluru police have also dismissed Congressional allegations that Ramesh was linked to a bitcoin theft at the British Virgin Islands-based Bitfinex exchange in 2016 and the alleged movement of more than 14,000 stolen bitcoins in December 2020 and April 2021 – known as Detected by blockchain analysts. ,

“The claim made on Whale Alert (a social media account) that 14,682 stolen Bitfinex bitcoins were transferred is completely baseless. There is nothing to suggest that it originated from Bangalore,” Crime Branch Police has said.

Police said that despite Ramesh’s arrest getting wide publicity, “no foreign law enforcement agencies or any foreign company has approached Bangalore Police regarding any hacking as claimed by the accused.”

“The accused made a series of hacking claims without any specific details. A preliminary inquiry was conducted to ascertain the veracity of the claims. Scrutiny of digital evidence by cyber experts has revealed that most of the claims were baseless,” Bengaluru Police has said.

Since Ramesh claimed to have hacked several crypto currency websites, the matter was brought to the notice of CBI Interpol units through proper channels on April 28, 2021, Bengaluru Police has said. Police said the details of Crime Branch cases against Ramesh have also been provided to the Enforcement Directorate.