Indian Police Officer Arrested for Stealing Over $200K in Bitcoin

Bitcoin cat theft

Chandrahar SR allegedly siphoned bitcoins worth approximately $216,000 and destroyed evidence of the transactions.

Chandrahar SR, a former inspector with the Central Crime Branch (CCB), is accused of illegally accessing a Bitcoin wallet belonging to a hacker, which was evidence in an investigation. The crypto scam, dating back to 2017, involved hackers Srikrishna Ramesh and Robin Khandelwal, who targeted exchanges like Bitfinex and Unocoin, making about INR 5.5 crore ($660,000). Ramesh attempted to launder the stolen funds through Khandelwal using Bitcoin but was arrested in 2020.

Initially, the Crime Branch reported that the bitcoins could not be recovered, prompting a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate. Investigators accused Ramesh of manipulating the Bitcoin core application to mislead them. Now, Chandrahar, one of the officers in the case, is accused of stealing Bitcoin from the hacker’s wallet. The SIT alleges he sought technical assistance from Santosh Kumar, who allegedly accessed Khandelwal’s wallet, siphoning off Bitcoins worth ₹1.8 crore (approximately $216,000) and destroying evidence of the transactions. 

An FIR filed by the SIT claims that Chandrahar, along with two other CCB officers and a private cyber expert named Santosh Kumar, accessed the wallet at Kumar’s Bengaluru office between December 30, 2020, and January 6, 2021. They are charged with illegal confinement, breach of trust by a public servant, and destruction of evidence. Chandrahar had been evading authorities but was arrested at his home in North Bengaluru. Two other police officers have also been arrested.

Increase in Scam Activity in India

In a separate case, India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) announced the seizure of INR 90 crores ($10.7 million) worth of cryptocurrencies related to the ‘E-Nugget’ scam. Aamir Khan and Romen Agarwal were arrested and charged. The scam involved a gaming platform that promised high returns, but once investments were made, the app went offline, and investors lost access to their funds. The ED found the scheme used 2,500 dummy bank accounts, with some funds invested in cryptocurrencies.

Due to the rise in scams and fraud, Indian regulators are tightening their oversight of the crypto sector.