Bitcoin scam: Here’s how hacker Sriki hopped hotels, led a lavish life

The hacker’s associates and co-accused in the case have alleged that he made them pay his hotel bills while promising them bitcoins in return, but never delivered on his promises

Srikri, 26, was arrested from a star hotel on November 6 for a brawl. He was living in the hotel for almost two months.

Associates of Karnataka Bitcoin scam accused Srikrishna Ramesh aka Sriki have claimed that he made them pay for his lavish lifestyle, promising bitcoins in return.

Srikri had earlier told police that he spent around ₹1-3 lakh a day on liquor and hotel bills. His associate and co-accused in the cases Suneesh Hedge, has told the police that Sriki made them pay for his hotel bills.

Suneesh’s statement is now part of the chargesheet filed in case.

Also read: Sriki hacked Karnataka govt sites from Himalayas, says report

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Srikri, 26, was arrested from a star hotel on November 6 for a brawl. He was living in the hotel for almost two months.

Suneesh, a Class-1 contractor with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, claimed that Sriki hacked poker websites and helped his friends win money by showing the card of the opponent beforehand.

He said Sriki claimed to have stolen bitcoins and promised to give him some if Suneesh took care of his expenses.

Suneesh said even though he has spent over ₹2 crore on Sriki so far, the latter never delivered on his promises. This caused the duo to fall out.

Suneesh said he later also learnt that Sriki was a friend of Mohammed Nalapad, the son of Karnataka MLA NA Haris.

Robin, a bitcoin trader from West Bengal, who helped Sriki sell 900 bitcoins he had stolen, corroborated Suneesh’s claims that Sriki indeed promised bitcoins to his aides in exchange of spending for him, but turned back on it, leading to a fallout.

Robin said when Sriki failed to deliver on his promises, Suneesh held him captive in his flat. It was then that Sriki suggested Robin that both of them should flee from the balcony of the flat.

In his statement, Suneesh said Robin took care of Sriki’s expenses from 2017, from food, lodging to Bitcoin dealings and the two hopped from one luxury hotel to another. They have stayed in hotels like ITC Gardenia, Four Seasons Hotel, Shangri-La, Gokulam Grand and organised parties at Robin’s flat.

During this time, Sriki hacked into multiple poker websites including Delhi-based PokerBaazi and Unocoin where bitcoins are traded.

Suneesh said in 2016-17, he had brokered a truce between poker website PokerBaazi and Sriki after a friend of the latter was caught up in a financial fraud with the website. Suneesh said Sriki had hacked the website and sent the money to Shiva.

Despite the incident, Sriki, continued hacking PokerBaazi and Cashfree Payment Gateway and made around ₹50 lakh. Sriki distributed the money among his aides Deepak, Raju Gowda and Yashas Gowda, Suneesh said.  Suneesh was roped in again to play peacemaker between both the parties after PokerBaazi CEO Navkiran Singh approached the cyber crime police in Bengaluru. He said while Raju Gowda and Deepak were arrested and jailed in the case and Yashas turned an approver. Having escaped to Goa, Sriki urged Sureesh to arrange a meeting with Navkiran Singh and offered to help the company fix the vulnerabilities on their website and app.

Suneesh said a meeting was held between Sriki and the company’s senior management officials in Goa and the hacker was paid ₹50 lakh in return for fixing the technical glitches in the website.

Sriki, who has now been charged for hacking the website, in his statement has said that while he thought Suneesh to be a “guy who could be trusted”, he instead found that “there lived a demon inside him waiting to extort the living hell out of me”.

Suneesh said in 2019, he roped in Hemanth, another accused to help Sriki convert his bitcoins worth ₹3 crore into cash. While the amount was transferred to Hemanth’s bank account, another ₹10.50 crore that Sriki claimed to have earned from hacking into the BBMP e-procurement portal was also transferred to the same account. Sriki later told Hemant to give him half of the money, Suneesh said.

Also read: Learnt coding at age of 8, bought drugs with first catch, claims Karnataka hacker

Later that year, the three went from one hotel to another where they hacked poker websites with Sriki’s help. The money earned was spent on parties.

Suneesh said while the others would leave, Robin and Sriki would usually stay in the hotel.

Robin, who is a witness in the case has confessed that he has done business worth ₹8 crore with Sriki through his firm Robin Online Services.

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