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Another Police Official Arrested In Alleged Bitcoin Extortion Plot

Yet another high-ranking police official in the Indian state of Gujurat has been taken into custody in connection with a $1 million bitcoin extortion scheme.

According to the Hindustan Times, Amreli police superintendent Jagdish Patel was arrested Sunday on suspicion that he helped a group of police officers detain a local resident after which he was forced him to give up his bitcoins. Police inspector Anant Patel, who is also based in Amreli, was similarly arrested last week and will be questioned at the same time as Jagdish Patel.

As previously reported, Anant Patel was one of 10 police officers accused of kidnapping, attempted extortion and corruption after businessman Shailash Bhatt, who alleges he was abducted, beaten and forced to turn over 200 bitcoins – an amount worth roughly $1.7 million at press time prices.

Two other locals were also allegedly abducted during the scheme, as alleged by the state’s Crime Investigation Department, which launched an investigation earlier this month following the complaints.

Anant Patel was previously thought to be the highest-ranking official related to the case, with the nine other suspects serving as constables.

But while arrests have been made, police director-general Ashish Bhatia said officials have not yet verified that the 200 bitcoins were ever transferred from Bhatt to Anant Patel.

The Hindustan Times also reported that Nalin Kotadia, a former elected official, has also been detained as a potential accomplice of the alleged scheme. It is unclear what role he may have played in the original abduction.

Police car lights image via Shutterstock

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Police Officers Charged in $1.3 Million Bitcoin Extortion Scheme

The Crime Investigation Department (CID) in the Indian state of Gujurat has accused 10 police officers of kidnapping, attempted extortion and corruption after they allegedly abducted a businessman and forced him to hand over 200 bitcoins.

Gujurat’s CID branch filed a First Information Report – the initial step in conducting a police inquiry in India – against 10 officials and a civilian “fixer” on Sunday, the Times of India reported. The accused include nine constables and a local town’s police inspector, whose name is reportedly Anant Patel.

The police officials are accused of kidnapping local residents Shailesh Bhatt, Kirit Paladiya and a driver referred to as Mahipal, taking them to a farmhouse, beating them and forcing them to transfer the bitcoins, according to a separate report from the Ahmedabad Mirror. The amount involved is equal to roughly $1.3 million, according to current prices.

The Mirror further reported that Bhatt was forced to pay another third party to retrieve his bitcoins.

However, director-general of police Ashish Bhatia said an initial probe could not verify that the 200 bitcoins were actually transferred from Bhatt to Patel, and police would examine both citizens’ wallets for proof, according to the Times.

He added:

“In his application, Shailesh Bhatt had mentioned the transfer of 200 Bitcoins worth Rs 12 crore ($1.8 million) from the digital wallet of his business partner, Kirit Paladiya. Another Rs 32 crore ($5 million) were allegedly paid for their release from a farmhouse. Later, Rs 78.5 lakh ($121,000) were allegedly paid to get the Bitcoins back. All these transactions mentioned in the application could not be proven.”

A Special Investigative Team is being formed to fully investigate the matter, Bhatia said. So far three of the constables have been arrested, and the remaining six, as well as Patel, are on the run, according to News18.com.

Indian police image via Sumit.Kumar.99 / Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.