Cryptocurrency fraud: 1,137 bitcoins missing from wallets of cyber expert, ex-IPS officer
PUNE The cyber cell of Pune police has contended that 1,300 bitcoins are missing from the wallets of cyber expert Pankaj Ghode and former IPS officer Ravindra Patil in connection with the multicrore cryptocurrency fraud lodged at Shivajinagar cyber police station in Pune.
Deputy commissioner of police (EOW and cyber crime) Bhagyashree Navtake said, “Patil has accepted that he took away 237 bitcoins. We seized cryptocurrency worth Rs6 crore from him. From Ghode’s side, almost 900 bitcoins are missing. Both of them have actually siphoned off 1,137 bitcoins through money laundering. Anonymity in blockchain makes it difficult to find the trail.”
According to the prevailing market rates on Saturday, one bitcoin was priced around ₹35.49 lakh. The Pune police had roped in two cyber experts to help them investigate the ₹2,000 crore cryptocurrency scam involving its mastermind Amit Bharadwaj and his associates in two FIRs lodged at Nigdi and Dattawadi police stations in 2018.
According to the latest FIR lodged against the cyber experts, the police had assigned them the task of recovering bitcoins from the wallets of the accused and shared data with them. Instead, the duo transferred the recovered bitcoins into their personal wallets and those of their associates.
They manipulated the screenshots of bitcoin recovery and submitted them as proof to the police as part of their investigation report. The cyber police had arrested the duo from Pune and seized a number of mobiles, MacBooks, hard disks, tabs, laptops, CDs, and other items from their possession on charges of stealing bitcoins for their financial gains while assisting the police during investigation.
A case under Sections 409, 420, 465, 468, 471, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code along with Sections 66(c) of Information Technology Act and Sections 3 and 4 of Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors was lodged at the cyber police station. Following their arrest, the duo was remanded in police custody and sent to judicial custody. Both of them have applied for regular bail at the district court wherein the prosecution is expected to file its say on Monday.
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