Indian Police Officers Implicated In Bitcoin Extortion Case

Crime, News | April 10, 2018 By:

The Crime Investigation Department (CID) in the Indian state of Gujarat has filed a criminal complaint against nine policemen and a lawyer for allegedly kidnapping a local businessman and forcing him to transfer 200 bitcoins ($1.3M USD).

According to the police department, they booked charges after receiving a complaint from Shailesh Bhatt, the victim. The local businessman alleges that police inspector Anant Patel, along with his accomplices, forcubly took him, his associate Kirit Paladia, and his driver Mahipal to a farmhouse near Dehgam and kept them hostage. Patel then forced Bhatt to transfer part of a ransom in 200 bitcoin. These bitcoins were transferred to an “unidentified” wallet.

CID director general Ashish Bhatia said that Bhatt had obtained bitcoins from somebody in Surat. But the transaction was apparently not done in a very fair manner and there was a dispute about it. The seller wanted Bhatt to return the bitcoins. Bhatt approached the LCB inspector, and the inspector, instead of taking legal action, sought to settle the dispute the illegal way by abducting Bhatt and trying to extort money from him.

According to news outlet Ahmedabad Mirror, the homes and offices of the police officers were simultaneously raided and two of the accused policemen — constables Babu Der and Vijay Vadher — have already been detained. A search is underway for the remaining officers.

Bhatia said that a special investigation team (SIT) had been formed to probe the case against the accused policemen. The policemen have been booked under various IPC sections — 364-a (kidnapping for ransom), 384 (extortion) — and under Prevention of Corruption Act.

Crypto-related abduction and fraud cases have increased in India following the massive surge in the value of cryptocurrencies last year. In June 2017, Indian police busted a gang who allegedly kidnapped a trader and demanded a ransom in bitcoin. In September 2017, local police arrested six people for kidnapping, assaulting, and robbing a New Delhi businessman who had gone to meet them in order to pay for bitcoin in cash.