Sriki hacked Karnataka govt sites from Himalayas, says report

Representative photo: iStock

The key accused in the Bitcoin scam in Karnataka, Srikrishna Ramesh alias Sriki, hacked the state government’s e-procurement cell from a resort in the Himalayas and attempted to steal ₹46 crore but managed to steal ₹11.5 crore, according to a report in The Indian Express.

The money was then routed to his associates through an extensive  money laundering scheme, Sriki told the police in a statement, which is part of the chargesheet.

The 26-year-old hacker planned to transfer “a total of Rs 18 crore in one account and Rs 28 crores in the other”, the report said.

The Bengaluru-based hacker gained access to the government’s e-procurement site in May/June 2019 by exploiting “a remote code execution vulnerability”. This gave him access to details of tender bids including transaction details, bid reference, payment amount, IFSC codes, account numbers of bidders etc, it said.

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

Officials at the e-procurement cell were alerted about the dubious transaction and stopped the theft of ₹7.37 crore but ₹11.5 crore had already been stolen by then. They filed a complaint with the cybercrime unit of Karnataka police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

“I initiated the second transfer of Rs 28 crores while sitting in the Himalayas. This transaction was presumably refunded because the government apparently got to know about the dubious nature of the transaction,” Srikrishna said in the statement, as per the Indian Express report.

One of Sriki’s associates had reportedly collected ₹2 crore through hawala route. All the associates used the money to spend on a high lifestyle, he said.

“I did not profit from this, however, I did enjoy the proceeds of the crime by living in 5-star hotels and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle from the proceeds,” he said in his statement.

The sons of a doctor, a former bank director, a chartered accountant and a law student are among those who used the benefits of the hacker’s activities, the police has found.

Also read: Karnataka bitcoin scam: Cong MLA seeks details of ‘seizure’ from accused Ramesh

This is just one of the six hacking cases against Sriki, who, in another case, is accused of hacking the Department of Urban Land Transport’s systems on September 6, 2020 and threatening to delete data if ransom in bitcoins was not paid.

There is more to Sriki’s cases as Congress has alleged that the 5,000 Bitcoins he stole through hacking and 31 Bitcoins the police claimed to have seized are reportedly missing.

“In chargesheet filed by CCB police, it is recorded that the accused looted 5,000 bitcoins through unethical hacking. Who holds these bitcoins now? Have they got it transferred to accounts of investigating agencies? Or are they clueless?” former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah said, suggesting there was corruption involved in the investigation of the case.

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