After a months-long investigation, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Karnataka CID Police has uncovered Bitcoin worth billions of rupees discovered by police officers from the Bangalore Crime Branch under the alias of hacker Shrikrishna Ramesh. An important breakthrough has been achieved that suggests the possibility of access. 29-year-old Suriki arrested in November 2020.
A breakthrough in the form of digital evidence led to the arrest of a police officer and a civilian cyber expert, with the names of three police officers in a new First Information Report (FIR) registered by the CID police on January 24. has been listed.
The Bitcoin scam that took place during the BJP’s tenure from 2019 to 2023 is widely believed to have political implications in the state. The SIT was set up by the new Congress government in July 2023 following allegations of large-scale corruption by the police in handling cases.
Inspector Prashant Babu, who was heading the technical support team of Bengaluru Central Crime Branch (CCB), and cyber expert Santosh Kumar KS, CEO of private sector group Cyber ID Technologies (GCID), on January 24. Legal proceedings have been underway since his arrest. , the SIT outlined the course of findings in the case.
Among the key discoveries reported by the SIT in court filings in recent weeks are the recovery of a new laptop that was specially purchased at the scene of the arresting police officer Babu and used by Suriki while in police custody; It is included.
Another important discovery is the fact that while Suriki was under arrest, three nanoledgers or hardware cryptocurrency wallets were procured on behalf of arrested cyber expert Kumar from Surat.
The SIT found digital evidence suggesting that a large amount of Bitcoin was transferred from a cloud wallet belonging to Sriki to a hardware wallet while the hacker was in custody.
In the SIT investigation, police officers used the services of private cyber and cryptocurrency experts to determine whether Mr. Suriqi (while still in office) had access to digital wallets stored on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud servers. Digital evidence was also found showing that access history had been erased. From November 2020 he was legally and illegally detained by the CCB police until January 2021).
Laptop, cryptocurrency wallet, cloud server
In the course of court filings from January 24 onwards, the CID SIT had said that Babu, with the assistance of cyber expert Gagan Jain of private company Cybersafe, had purchased an MSI wrap around December 8, 2020. It was revealed that the top was purchased for 60,000 rupees. A company that provides cyber investigative expertise to law enforcement.
The laptop was not initially manufactured before the SIT by the arrested Crime Branch personnel despite multiple notices, but it was finally manufactured and handed over to the SIT on October 13, 2023. I did. The laptop was made before the SIT on October 6, 2023, a week after the team searched the homes of four police officers and two cyber experts.
Forensic analysis of the new laptop revealed that it had been used by the police inspector and GCID office to remotely access cryptocurrency wallets on AWS server accounts while Suriki was in police custody. There was found. The details of the wallet file on Amazon cloud servers, or its existence, are not recorded in police files.
“Forensic analysis of the laptop revealed that the laptop was used by the hacker to hack or attempt to hack sites and carry out other illegal activities while in police custody. ” the SIT said in court documents.
The SIT also found that the digital trail of the hacker’s access to the AWS cloud wallet was wiped by the police with the help of cyber experts and Bitcoin experts who are also under investigation.
The SIT alleges that Jain, Kumar, a private cyber expert, and Sathvik V, director of Unocoin Technologies, were used to delete the bash history for accessing AWS. “As a result, important information about Amazon Web Bitcoin wallets in his servers was erased and placed beyond the reach of investigators,” the SIT claimed.
The SIT also found that when Suriki was in custody, Kumar obtained three nanoledgers or hardware crypto wallets from Surat through his associates, one of which was given to Babu. The SIT claimed that a large amount of Bitcoin in Mr. Suriki’s wallet was transferred to these hardware wallets on January 16, 2021.
The SIT has reported that one of the three hardware crypto wallets has been recovered and is seeking the discovery of two other hardware crypto wallets that were allegedly used to transfer Bitcoin. “We have information that Mr. Suriki’s Bitcoin and wallet were transferred to Nanoledger (a hardware cryptocurrency wallet),” SIT Special Public Prosecutor BN Jagadeesh said in court arguments this week seeking bail.
At Babu’s bail hearing on Friday, his senior counsel Shyam Sundar argued that the case brought against him by the CID was more in the realm of imagination and not based on concrete evidence. The hearing was adjourned to Monday.
Incidentally, according to records in the proceedings, on January 5, 2021, cyber experts, at Babu’s direction, accessed the cryptocurrency wallets, emails, and bank accounts of Suliki and his colleague, accountant Robin Khandelwal. He is said to have changed his login name and password. Absence of witnesses or court orders.
On January 6, 2021, Kumar allegedly transferred Bitcoins worth Rs 186,000 from Khandelwal’s cryptocurrency wallet to his own cryptocurrency wallet after gaining unauthorized access to the wallet with a changed password.
On January 8, 2021, the Crime Branch carried out formal seizure proceedings for 31 Bitcoins allegedly in the wallet shown by Suriki. Kumar facilitated the seizure of 31 Bitcoins in the presence of a private pancha of the State Electricity Board.
However, on January 22, 2021, when the police opened the wallet to which the 31 Bitcoins seized from Suriki had been transferred on January 8th, the Bitcoins were gone.
Cyber experts Kumar and Sasvik provide their expert opinion on the disappearance of 31 Bitcoins, saying that Suriqi deceived the police into believing that the Bitcoins on a cryptocurrency exchange were his. .
After his arrest in 2020, hacker Suriki revealed in court documents, including a voluntary statement, that he owned 400 Bitcoin and was under pressure from police to hand it over. disclosed to the police.
“I understood the scenario of the case that even if I did not give them the bitcoins, after discussions with the investigators, they could use forensic methods to find the bitcoins. “After that, I voluntarily agreed to transfer the Bitcoins I had stored in various wallets of various cryptocurrencies,” the statement attributed to Mr. Suriki reads. is part of an indictment in one of the hacking cases filed against the hacker in
At the time of Suriki’s arrest, the value of one Bitcoin was around $25,000 (approximately 2 million rupees), but by April 2021, the value had soared to $60,000 (approximately 50 million rupees). Investigators estimate that Bitcoin fraud is as follows. It ranges from Rs 80 billion to Rs 200 billion.
The SIT said further investigation is required to ascertain the veracity of Mr. Suriki’s claims. “Digital traces cannot be hidden in cybercrime. They are sure to provide leads. The SIT has found several clues,” said a senior police officer. Police sources said SIT and other officials had been analyzing digital and other information collected during the investigation for months before filing a fresh FIR and making the arrests on January 24. That’s what it means.
The SIT had also named three former police officers of the Bengaluru crime branch – Sridhar Pujar (currently deputy superintendent), Inspector SR Chandradhar and Inspector Laxmikantaiah in the FIR filed on January 24. The officers are accused of illegally imprisoning Suriki and his accountant. Breach of trust and destruction of evidence by public officials.
The officer’s interim bail was refused.
Sridhar Pujar, who is one of the police officers named in the FIR and was an investigating officer in some of the hack cases investigated by the crime branch against Sriki in 2020-21, said on Thursday Interim bail was denied by a special court.
“I am of the view that the accused should be heard before passing any order on the bail application. Therefore, I cannot decide without hearing the respondents. Therefore, the application for interim bail should be dismissed. “The special CID court said on Thursday.
The court on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail to Sathvik V and Harish BV, co-founders of Unocoin Technologies Pvt Ltd, who were summoned for investigation by the SIT. Satvik is alleged to have helped Mr. Kumar monitor Mr. Suliki’s hacking activities while in police custody and facilitated the deletion of cyber traces of illegal access to the hacker’s cloud wallet while in police custody. There is.
The co-founders of the cryptocurrency exchange allegedly paid Babu 700,000 rupees to recover cryptocurrencies that were hacked and stolen from the exchange by Suriki in 2017.