A recent report published on 27th March revealed that the Pakistan police have arrested an extortionist gang that demanded ransom in bitcoins to release the hostage. The gang had demanded more than 140,000 dollars in BTC from the victim’s family out of which they received over 17,500 USD already.
It must be noted that the case in point is said to be a first such incidence in Pakistan and authorities can’t help but worry that it might set a trend. But as bitcoins use a ledger that’s completely public without any room for privacy modification, unlike cryptos like Monero, opting for such a payment method appears as a decision made out of curiosity on the part of criminals.
Police Arrests 7 People Involved in the Racket
Out of all those detained in Lahore city of Pakistan the previous week, one held the position as a deputy commissioner of the town’s telephone operator. The authorities arrested Mazhar Abbas on Saturday when he was attending an event accompanying the deputy commissioner.
What’s more fascinating is the fact that among the other accused, 2 were active as police constables. As per Dawn, one of the local bulletins, Mohammad Arif and Mohsin Abbas had even worked for a judge in the high court as guards.
Two more suspects Sheikh Abdul Rauf and Mohammad Tahir belong to Faisalabad and Lahore respectively and are alleged bitcoin traders, responsible for handling the gang’s payment part of work.
The 6th member Faisal Yousuf was a student of information technology Professor Shahid Naseer, the victim. The gang supposedly kidnapped the professor and demanded more than 140,000 dollars in BTC from his family for his release.
One of the representatives of the police, Rashid Hidayat stated that Naseer was now with his family and the entire event had Yousuf as its leader. Hidayat further added that after renting a car, the accused had changed its number plate with the government one, thanks to the link between Abbas and the concerned deputy commissioner. That enabled them to easily abduct and take the professor to a place in Sheikhupura where they had kept him captive till his release.
The police report describes the crime as the first recognized offense of its kind where the ransom was demanded in the digital currency of bitcoins by the kidnappers. The report also expressed the fear that it might inspire more gangs to follow the path.
Hidayat also said that the tracking down of these suspects became successful because of the efforts put together by 3 squads of police experts. The trail of the already paid money to the extortionists also partly helped the police. As Rauf and Tahir had already been involved in crypto and bitcoin activities, they were the first ones to be picked out by the officers.
Bitcoin is Not Your Crime Companion
Though this was the first such case in Pakistan, it is not the first time that abductors have asked payment in bitcoin. So far, NewsBTC has revealed plenty of such criminal cases out of which many had ended with arrests.
Nevertheless, bitcoin is not that great as criminals perceive it to be. First of all, it is a fully public ledger and the technology of blockchain has done amazing stuff when it comes to the identification of true bitcoin wallet owners. The process involves following the BTC payments to the last point where it’s converted into fiat money coupled with extensive traditional investigation techniques. For example, identifying each wallet owner BTC passes through while on its path to one of the exchanges or an equivalent service via monitoring the suspects’ online as well as offline interactions.