BENGALURU: The Cyber Crime police on Tuesday arrested a woman who allegedly stole 64 bitcoins, worth Rs 3.66 crore, by accessing the hardware wallet of a cryptocurrency exchange firm where she had worked. Police arrested Ayushi based on a complaint filed by Ashish Singhal, owner of cryptocurrency exchange firm BitCipher Labs in Mahadevapura.
According to the complaint, Ashish, Vimal Sagar Tiwari and Govind Kumar Soni were holders of two hardware wallets on behalf of BitCipher Labs LLP. They also held the private keys among. On March 13, they found out that 63.54 bitcoins (worth Rs 3.66 crore) were transferred through SwapLab between January 11 and March 11.
“Investigation revealed the complainant had hardware wallets in which Bitcoins were stored, and a 24-word passphrase (password) was written on a piece of paper and stored securely. Only the complainant and partners had access to the passphrase, which was the key to authenticate bitcoin transactions. The accused hacked into their systems and carried out unauthorised transactions,” a police officer said.
“Since a hardware wallet and passphrase was required for bitcoin transactions, it was suspected that the culprit was someone proficient in using this technology, and who was closely associated with the firm. Police prepared a list of former employees of the company, and short-listed Ayushi. When questioned, she admitted to have carried out the transactions by acquiring the passphrase written on paper,” the senior police officer added.
“As she was working with the firm from the beginning, Ashish trusted her and gave her the key to the almirah in which the paper with the passpharse was kept. Taking advantage of this, Ayushi opened the almirah when no one was around and took a photograph of the passphrase, because she required bitcoins to start her own cryptocurrency exchange company. She purchased a hardware wallet and used the passphrase to convert bitcoins with the assistance of Swaplab exchange to Monero cryptocurrency, and later had them transferred to her Binance account. The woman volunteered to transfer the stolen bitcoins back to their original owners, and it was done,” the police said.