BENGALURU: The kidnapping of a minor boy in Dakshina Kannada district for ransom in bitcoins is the first such kidnapping in the State. Though the child was rescued unhurt on Saturday morning from Kolar, 372 km away from Ujire in DK, and his kidnappers arrested, the incident has sent a chill down the spine of the police administration.
According to the police, the mastermind, who is absconding, planned the kidnapping of the child, the son of a businessman Bijoy, for 100 bitcoins. As on Saturday, the price of one bitcoin is equivalent to Rs 17 lakh approximately. The demand for ransom was 100 bitcoins which is equivalent to Rs 17 crore. The kidnappers had later scaled down the ransom to 60 bitcoins and Rs 25 lakh.
“The main accused knew Bijoy and also that he had bitcoins. The latter had some cryptocurrency three years ago, but once their prices had crashed, he had sold them. This aspect was not known to the mastermind,” said an officer.
In the last one year, the price of cryptocurrency has sky-rocketed from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for one bitcoin to Rs 17 lakh. “The accused may have thought of getting them from Bijoy for monetary gain and also for the fact that exchange of cryptocurrency cannot be traced easily outside a bitcoin exchange.
The identity of the buyer or seller becomes known at the time of sale or conversion of cryptocurrency into fiat money,” he added. “The kidnappers, who have been arrested, were hired from Bengaluru, Mandya and Mangaluru . The arrest of the mastermind will throw more light. There could also be a personal angle behind the crime,” said the officer.
“The role of organised mafia cannot be ruled out,” he added. “Crime is expected to go up. Partly because of lack and loss of jobs and the impact of Covid-19 on the society itself and its psyche,” said the officer.
Former minister Varthur Prakash was kidnapped for ransom on November 25 in Kolar by Kaviraj, a gangster close to the jailed underworld don Ravi Pujari.