A builder in India has been arrested as part of a Rs. 1.5 billion bitcoin extortion bust ($22.7 million USD).
Three months ago local builder Shailesh Bhatt had filed a complaint with the Gujurat Criminal Investigation Department.
In his complaint Bhatt alleged extortion by the Amreli police.
Amreli is a district in Saurashtra, Gujurat.
Upon investigating Bhatt’s complaint, Gujurat CID agents discovered
Bhatt had extorted bitcoins worth crores from others before he was kidnapped by the Amreli police.
Kidnapped? Yeah… this gets messy.
Two years ago another man, Satish Kumbhani, began promoting the BitConnect Ponzi scheme across Gujurat.
The builder, Shailesh Bhatt, was one of the victims that fell for it and invested $293,000 under Kumbhani.
When BitConnect collapsed in January, Bhatt arranged for kidnapping of a third individual, Piyush Savalia.
Bhatt’s men posed as Income Tax Officials and held Savalia at gunpoint in a farm-house for three days.
Savalia led Bhatt’s men to Dhaval Mavani, who Bhatt then also had kidnapped at gunpoint on February 1st.
Bhatt would later pay Savalia $50,000 for his silence.
While held at gunpoint, Bhatt’s men convinced Mavani to transfer 2,256 bitcoin to a wallet under their control.
That wasn’t enough though, with Mavani held hostage until he parted with an additional $2.1 million USD.
“Bhatt and his accomplices extorted bitcoins and cash worth a total of Rs 155.21 crore.
Later, they distributed the bitcoins among themselves. Bhatt had kept around 700 bitcoins,” the CID official said.
Bhatt’s kidnapping and extortion escapades were uncovered when CID agents interrogated Savalia as part of his complaint against Amreli police.
CID agents have since arrested Bhatt and his nephew, who assisted Bhatt with the transfer of bitcoin.
Bhatt’s henchmen are wanted but remain at large.
At this point you’re probably wondering why, after extorting $22.7 million from BitConnect scammers, Bhatt drew attention to himself by filing a complaint against Amreli police.
Well, turns out there’s something to his complaint.
Bhatt alleged that Amreli police kidnapped him and in turn extorted him out of $1.3 million.
Investigation of Bhatt’s complaint has led to the arrest of Kirit Paladia, one of Bhatt’s business associates,
Amreli Superintendent of Police Jagdish Patel, Amreli local Crime Branch inspector Anant Patel, two constables and a middleman.
Seven constables of Amreli district police, allegedly involved in the case, are still on the run.
Since the arrests a session court has also authorized an arrest warrant against local politician Nalin Kotadiya, who Bhatt alleged was also in on his kidnapping and subsequent extortion.
Local news reports meanwhile are claiming Satish Kumbhani (right) is the “founder of BitConnect”.
Quoting Ashish Bhatia of the CID on May 22nd, the Times of India report;
The web of complaints and counter-complaints have blown the lid off a major scam, which police believe was triggered by demonetization in November 2016.
Those with illicit cash were offered the chance to invest it in BitConnect and Nexa Coin, entities reportedly owned by Satish Kumbhani, a native of Amreli who has an office in Surat.
Kumbhani, who later fled the country, mainly stayed in Goa.
On LinkedIn Kumbhani cites himself as an “Asian Leader” of BitConnect. Other BitConnect related media cites him as a “BitConnect Program Developer”.
Kumbhani’s current whereabouts are unknown.
After BitConnect collapsed its principals across the globe went into hiding, along with the money they collectively stole.