ED Steps Up Probe Into Bengaluru Hacker’s Illegal Wealth

ED Steps Up Probe Into Bengaluru Hacker’s Illegal Wealth
Image Source: The Indian Express

Investigations are being conducted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into a 25-year-old hacker in Bengaluru who allegedly earned illegal wealth through several cybercrimes.

An instance of this was the siphoning of Rs 11.5 crore of funds from the e-procurement cell of Karnataka’s e-government center in the past year.

On Wednesday, the ED questioned Srikrishna Ramesh alias Sriki, a 25-year-old hacker.

It is associated with a case registered by the agency earlier this year concerning alleged hackings of bitcoin accounts between 2018 and 2020 and the encashment of bitcoins through the hawala route.

The ED has launched a second investigation into the alleged money laundering of hacker Sriki and four others involved in hacking bitcoin accounts and websites last year in Bengaluru.

 HACKERS’ ILLEGAL & PROFITS

A UP firm, Nimmi Enterprises, was given Rs 1.44 crore as compensation for Rs 11.5 crore stolen from the Karnataka e-procurement cell in 2020 due to hacking.

Sources say ED is investigating Sriki and associates’ use of funds obtained by hacking bitcoin accounts. They are stealing information from national and international websites by creating fake and false documents.

Sriki and his associates have extorted funds from companies and individuals, the ED told a local court six months ago. There has been no trace of the Rs 6 crore stolen from Karnataka’s eProcurement cell through a hack by Sriki and associates.

ILLEGAL: EXTREME LEVEL OF HACKERS 

Speculation has occurred that Sriki’s hacking activities were not restricted to Indian websites and computers but also extended to foreign countries. Foreign agencies were also interested in pursuing investigations against Sriki.

In Bengaluru, police sources said they had inquired about Sriki’s hacking activities with national agencies. 

A Bengaluru hacker is accused of buying drugs using bitcoins in the darknet, stealing bitcoins. They are compromising dozens of poker gaming sites, promising cryptocurrency profits to those whom he cheated, along with an assault on the son of a politician. 

“Funds worth Rs 10.5 Crore and Rs 1.05 Crore were diverted to bank accounts of M/s. SHREE KRISHNA alias SRKI during the investigation of money-laundering activities,” said the police. 

Nagpur’s Uday Grama Vikash Sanstha, as well as M/s. Regarding the e-procurement cell hack, the ED said in August Nimmi Enterprises, Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh, respectively. ED investigation found that Karnataka’s e-procurement cell transferred stolen funds into other bank accounts under the guise of business transactions and loans.

They were eventually moved to the prominent gang in Bengaluru through hawala transactions.

Srikrishna allegedly went to a Bengaluru post office to collect a parcel of ganja with some of his associates in November 2020, having studied computers in Europe.

A friend of Srikrishna, Robin Khandelwal, ran a Bitcoin trading service and was accused of transferring money to Khandelwal so he could purchase drugs on the dark web.

Srikrishna was involved in multiple crimes in Bengaluru after he was arrested in a drug case. Sriki was also linked to the e-procurement hacking by a CID cybercrime cell probe, sources said.

From the alleged hacker, police recovered 31 bitcoins worth Rs 9 crore. Sources say Bengaluru police were unable to access bitcoins recovered based on the information provided by Sriki.

In claiming to recover bitcoins from Sriki, the hacker misled law enforcement officials into believing that he had Bitcoins in exchange, sources said. They denied speculation that bitcoins had been diverted.

A charge sheet was filed against the hacker and his associates by the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch in March of this year for allegedly hacking into the accounts of Bitcoin holders and national, international websites.

Police sources said that affluent gangs in Bengaluru have been using Sriki’s computer hacking skills since 2015, including close associates and kin of political leaders. 

As stated in a separate case, Arvind Balakrishna, an online gaming firm director, claims Sriki’s gang stole data from two business websites. Casino 143 and Poker Saint – resulting in significant losses for the company.

(One game maker, Baazi Networks Private Limited) the hacker’s gang stole KYC data from its customers and illegally sent 70 lakh rupees to another firm, Infizy IT Solutions Private Limited.

Most of the hacking was at the request of people who wanted to take advantage of him. “His controllers viewed him as an asset because he is a highly skilled operator.” said police sources.

Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah claimed on social media on Wednesday that the case “in the drugs and Bitcoin scam” is being closed.

Influential politicians in Karnataka are implicated in the drugs & Bitcoin scam. In an apparent reference to cybercrimes linked to Sriki, the former CM expressed his concern about the investigation officers’ attempts to close the case.

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