Karnataka Police Launch Internal Probe Over Handling of Evidence in Bitcoin Scam


Karnataka Police Launch Internal Probe Over Handling of Evidence in Bitcoin Scam

People count on the police to be vigilant and help keep them safe from scams, including cryptocurrency fraud. So accounts on Thursday of a probe of police officers in the state of Karnataka, India, have raised understandable concern.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Karnataka police is looking into the conduct of several unnamed officers who were reviewing evidence in a Bitcoin scam.

Police in Karnataka May Have Mishandled Bitcoin

The report states that the Bitcoin scam came to authorities’ attention back in 2020. Police arrested a hacker who goes by the name SriKi. The reputed bad actor had allegedly used cryptocurrency to buy drugs on the dark web.

Police inquiries led them to suspect the involvement of SriKi (real name Srikrishna Ramesh) in a number of criminal activities. Authorities took custody of, and reviewed, a hard drive, two MacBooks, and two pen drives in their search for evidence.

The CID’s complaint charges that the local police may have tampered with some of the sensitive files that are crucial to the case against SriKi. Their basis for this allegation? The hash values of some of the digital files appear to have changed. Worse, some of the confiscated crypto is no longer where it should be, the report explains.

The CID suspects officers of the Central Crime Branch (CCB). They were supposed to safeguard the evidence, but may have tampered with it. The article quotes an unnamed CID officer:

“We suspect that these devices were tampered with within the premises of the CCB office in Bengaluru between November 9 and December 12, 2020.”

Karnataka Police Launch Internal Probe Over Handling of Evidence in Bitcoin Scam

Criminal activity involving cryptocurrency is a serious problem in India as in many other countries. Source: Chainalysis.

India’s Prime Minister Has Called for a Unified Approach

The investigation of one branch of Indian law enforcement by another, in connection with a Bitcoin scam, underscores one of the very issues that India’s prime minister spoke out on this week.

Just ahead of the G20 Summit coming up in New Delhi on September 9-10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the lack of uniform crypto regulations. Modi would like to see more unity around crypto rulemaking and enforcement globally.

Just as different countries and governments work together to ensure safety and cooperation around commercial aviation, says Modi, so they should recognize their common interests with regard to cryptocurrency.

Modi knows well how exasperating the lack of unanimity can be. In December 2021, hackers accessed his Twitter account. They then posted a number of wild and false claims to his more than 73 million followers. Including that India’s government now recognized Bitcoin and legal tender and planned to give some away for free.

Time will tell whether Modi’s wise counsel about the need for better regulations makes an impact.


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