Living life web size with a few stolen bitcoins
Also known as Srikki, he operated mostly in Bengaluru, India’s tech hub, and also in Goa, according to the charge sheet, which said he operated in concert with a group of associates, using his tech savvy to make vast amounts of money for themselves.
He told the Central Crime Branch (CCB) last year that he’d even hacked the Twitter accounts of global leaders, apart from compromising crypto platforms. That led to the police registering a first information report (FIR) related to his crypto hacking and roping in domain experts from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the e-governance department of the state government for investigations.
“Only some of his claims led to definitive leads and evidence. He was a master hacker who used his deep knowledge and expertise for unlawful purposes and making a quick buck,” said a police officer, who was part of the CCB investigation team.
A co-accused in the bitcoin scam spent Rs 11.80 lakh once to provide Krishna with a private jet for his travel, according to the charge sheet.
He hacked crypto exchanges, including Unocoin, and used both master and private keys of account holders to gain control of bitcoins, the charge sheet said. He later transferred them to his own account before passing them on to friend and co-accused Robin Khandelwal, in return for cash. He and his accomplices-Khandelwal, Sunil Hegde, Prasidh Shetty and Sujay Raj-used a web of crypto and bank accounts to similarly transfer bitcoins and convert them into cash, according to the charge sheet.
Unocoin, the Indian bitcoin platform that also set up the first bitcoin ATM in Bengaluru three years ago, has since strengthened its security, according to a source in the investigation team. Unocoin didn’t respond to queries.
Helped Partners Win Big
Krishna would only stay at luxury hotels and resorts, leading a lavish lifestyle, the charge sheet said. A police officer said he also spent time on luxury cruise ships.
According to the charge sheet, he also hacked online game sites, including PokerDangal, PokerBaazi, GGpoker, PPpoker, SwC Poker, BitStarz and Spartan Poker. Hegde, Shetty and Raj won big on these sites by using information stolen by Krishna, it said.
Krishna hacked online gaming website PokerBaazi and stole data, then collected a ransom of Rs 50 lakh from its promoters, before restoring the platform, the charge sheet said.
The Bengaluru police have also charged him and others under Sections 66 and 66 (c) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, that deal with fraudulently accessing computer networks, destruction of data, digital impersonation, fraudulent electronic signature and stealing the unique ID of others.