Over the years, cryptocurrencies have often been embroiled in several scams, which is one reason it’s not recognised as legal tender in many countries, including India. Recently, another scam jolted the Karnataka government. The opposition in the state has raked up the case of a computer hacker for his alleged cryptocurrency transactions linked to “influential politicians.
”What was the scam?
Srikrishna Ramesh, the hacker, was arrested in Bengaluru on November 4, 2020, in a drugs case. Ramesh is said to have transferred funds to Robin Khandelwal, who operated a Bitcoin trading service, to purchase drugs on the dark net.
The arrest led to the uncovering of a series of crimes. The Bengaluru Police found Ramesh to be involved in several other crimes, including the hacking of an e-procurement cell.
Furthermore, the police recovered 31 Bitcoins valued at about Rs 9 crore from the alleged hacker.It has been reported that the Enforcement Directorate is now investigating Ramesh’s illegal wealth and the siphoning of Rs 11.5 crore from the e-procurement cell of the Karnataka e-governance centre.
Know the hacker
Ramesh, 25, was said to have developed an interest in computers and its languages from his school days and had also hacked his school website. He later became a black hat hacker – one who breaks into computer networks with malicious intent – and became known by his aliases Rose and Big Boss.
A resident of Jayanagar in Bengaluru, Ramesh studied in VV Puram College, where he started drinking and consuming drugs. That led him to more hacking and stealing of money with which he would purchase Bitcoins to procure drugs on the dark web.
In 2014, he went to Amsterdam to study Computer Science.On his return, he is said to have hacked into Indian poker websites and a gaming website called RuneScape. In 2018, he was involved in a criminal case with Mohammed Nalapad, son of MLA NA Haris, for allegedly assaulting a man in UB City.
Sources said the bone of contention in the brawl was Ramesh’s hacking services.
The websites that Ramesh allegedly hacked include BTC2pm.me, where people exchange Bitcoins for money; Havelock Investment, a stock-trading platform for Bitcoin users; Bangladesh-based exchange Paytiz; MPEX, an illegal cryptocurrency-trading platform, and a Ukrainian platform.
The Criminal Investigation Department is investigating two hacking cases linked to Ramesh and his associates – the 2019 case of a Rs 11.5-crore heist from the e-procurement unit of the state’s e-governance cell and an attempted ransomware attack in 2020 on the website of Adani Group-operated Udupi Power Corporation Ltd.
Of the seven cases, the police have filed chargesheets in three while investigations are pending in four. Ramesh is out on bail in all cases.Over the past week, the opposition Congress party claimed the police were going easy on Ramesh and his associates. The state government has denied the charges.