Karnataka: Boy rescued, 6 who demanded bitcoins as ransom arrested | Mangaluru News – Times of India
MANGALURU: Dakshina Kannada district police solved the abduction case of an 8-year-old boy in less than 36 hours after the crime was reported. The boy was reunited with his family in Kolar after a police team rescued him by arresting six men at Malur in the early hours of Saturday. A search is on for the kingpin.
The accused are Ranjith, 22, data-entry operator at an IT company; Hanumanthu, 21, cab driver from Mandya; Gangadhar, 25, of T Narasipura; Kamal, 22, mechanic from Electronics City in Bengaluru; Manjunath, 24, and Mahesh, 26, both from Kolar.
The boy, son of a businessman, was kidnapped from his house in Ujire of Belthangady taluk on Thursday evening. First, the kidnappers demanded 100 bitcoins (valued at Rs 17 crore) as ransom. But later, they lowered the figure to 60 bitcoins (Rs 10 crore).
Demanding cryptocurrency as ransom is said to be the first in the state, police said.
SP BM Laxmi Prasad told mediapersons on Saturday that four special police teams were formed soon after the incident, and all the checkposts were alerted.
The kingpin, who is known to the boy’s family, had promised to pay his gang Rs 7 lakh for the operation.
Prior to kidnapping the boy, four of the gang members did a recce for 10 days and stayed at a lodge near Dharmasthala. They moved around the place in a cab, interacting with locals to collect information about the boy’s family and their movements. After kidnapping the boy, they went to a village in Kolar, crossing Sullia, Madikeri, Mandya and Bengaluru.
Two hours after the abduction, one of them made a call to the family, demanding 100 bitcoins as ransom to release the boy. The number was traced to Madhya Pradesh. What followed next were messages through WhatsApp. The cryptocurrency wallet number was also sent for the family to transfer the bitcoins.
Speaking on the unusual demand for bitcoins, Laxmi Prasad said the kingpin was aware that the boy’s father had a bitcoin business.
“But when we asked the boy’s father, he said he had stopped trading bitcoins three years ago. The kingpin planned the crime assuming the boy’s father was still in that business. We were clear that the crime was done by a person known to the family. We have some clues and are confident of arresting him soon,” the SP said.
Confident that the family would pay the ranson immediately, the kingpin had told the gang that the abduction drama would end in 24 hours, the SP said, adding: “But when it got delayed, the panicstricken gang did not know what to do. So they travelled to Kolar as two of them are from the region.”
The SP said the gang treated the boy well, and was keen to send him back to his family. The accused were produced before a court.