Over Rs 8 lakh transferred to account of extortionist who threatened BJP MLAs in…

Central and UP investigation agencies have found on Saturday that over Rs 8 lakh was transferred and withdrawn from a cryptocurrency (bitcoin) account in which more than a dozen UP BJP MLAs were asked to deposit money demanded from them as extortion.

The UP Special Task Force (STF), Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) as well as central intelligence agencies had swung into action after chief minister Yogi Adityanath took cognizance of the case and ordered a detailed probe.

The UP police had also, on May 23, constituted a special investigation team, under supervision of IG STF Amitabh Yash and SSP STF Abhishek Singh, to investigate the matter. “Transactions of 1.60368338 bitcoins, which is equal to Rs 8.19 lakh, were done in the extortionist’s account that he had mentioned in the threat messages sent to the MLAs. And the entire amount was later transferred to some other account,” said a person associated with the case of extortion demand from the UP MLAs. He said a total of six transactions, between 6. 46 pm on May 2 and 4 am on May 18, were done in the cryptocurrency e-wallet during which bitcoin was received and sent through different e-wallets. He said one transaction each were done on May 2, 3, 4, and 18 and two transactions on May 17. Person familiar with the matter said the BJP MLAs and some other eminent persons in UP, as well as other states, had started receiving threat messages demanding as extortion Rs 10 lakh each through bitcoins during the same period.

He said it is, however, yet not clear who all have had done these transactions. The source said the extortionist had used mobile phone devices, using a mobile service provider, to send the extortion messages.

Over a dozen BJP MLAs in UP and some former MLAs and officer-bearers had received WhatsApp messages asking them to pay Rs 10 lakh on different dates this month. The extortionist had posed as Ali Bhai Budesh, a notorious Indian extortionist based in Bahrain, but investigation agencies have yet to confirm whether the same person is behind it or somebody else is using his name. Initial probe has hinted involvement of some professional hacker or a group of hackers in the entire matter.