The lead defendant in a massive Indian Bitcoin scandal has revealed to the police that he hacked Bitfinex twice.
Srikrishna Ramesh alias Sriki revealed that he was the first person to hack the Hong Kong-based crypto exchange and it was his first significant Bitcoin exchange hack, and then went on to explain exactly how he managed to break into the popular crypto exchange system twice.
“Bitfinex was my first big bitcoin exchange hack; the exchange was hacked twice, and I was the first person to do so. The second instance was a simple spear-phishing attack that led to two Israeli hackers working for the army getting access to the computers of one of the employees, which gave them access to the AWS cloud account.”
“I exploited a bug in the data centre which gave me KVM (Kernel-based virtual machine) access to the server. I rebooted the server into GRUB mode, reset the root password, logged in, and reset the withdrawal server passwords and routed the money via bitcoin to my bitcoin address.”Srikrishna Ramesh, Defendant in Indian Bitcoin Scam
Sriki, known in hacking circles by the aliases Rose and Big Boss, was arrested in connection with a large Bitcoin heist after hacking a government procurement portal and siphoned off funds with the help of data he accessed. He also claimed to have a long history of hacking, including attacks on several crypto exchanges and online gaming platforms. Some of the websites he hacked include crypto platform Bitclub Network where he stole 100 Bitcoins (which today would be worth around $6.3M) and over $3M from BTC-e.
Hacker made over 20K BTC in profits
Sriki claims to have made over 20K Bitcoin in profits from his exploits, but spent most of it on funding his luxury lifestyle.
“I didn’t save anything. Blew it up on the luxurious lifestyle which I continued by spending around Rs 1 to Rs 3 lakh a day on alcohol and hotel bills on average. The price of bitcoin during the time of this hack was around $100 or $200, which I shared with my friend Andy from the UK.”Srikrishna Ramesh, Defendant in Indian Bitcoin Scam
The hackers luck ran out however in November 2020, after some of his associates were arrested on other charges, which inevitably led to him.
This case has gone far beyond a simple case of an errant hacker though. Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah took to social media to allege a significant conspiracy including politicians and senior police officers.
History of Indian Bitcoin Scam Hacker’s Exploits Started At School
India Today reports that Srikrishna “began to take an interest in computers while in the 4th standard and later immersed himself in various computer languages and technologies. It is alleged that he hacked into the main website while in school”. It further alleges that he regularly used this unauthorised access to improve data relating to his attendance and grades, in a scene similar to that of the classic 1983 movie “Wargames“.
In one of his first major exploits, which took place whilst he was studying at VV Puram College, Sriki and an Australian hacker named Shane D allegedly managed to hack PayPal’s account transaction website. Later, he would hack gaming applications and transfer the stolen funds to his own PayPal account.
While in college, he got into drinking and drugs, and Sriki continued to hack more companies to steal money to fund his habit, purchasing Bitcoin’s with the proceeds and using them to buy drugs on the darknet, which would be delivered in packages to a local Post Office. Either he or one of his accomplices would then collect the packages, with some of the drugs being sold on.
How it all came crashing down
in November 2020, one of his associates, identified as M Sujay B Mohanraj, allegedly went to a post office in Bengaluru to collect a parcel of marijuana, and was caught. Sujay led the police to Srikrishna and his accomplices, Sunish Hegde and Prasad Shetty. They were arrested by the Kempe Gowda Nagar Police who then handed over the case to the Central Crime Branch (CCB).
During the investigation, it was found out that Sunish and Prasad were related and that they were sourcing and distributing the drugs via the dark web with the help of Srikrishna.
The Bengaluru Police alleged that Srikrishna was involved in multiple other crimes in the city, and a CID cybercrime cell probe that was in progress at the same time into the e-procurement cell hacking also unearthed technical evidence linking him to the crime.
“He has been active in the Bitcoin trade. Recently, he was also involved in a case registered at KG Nagar police station in South Bengaluru. He provided Bitcoins for purchasing drugs through the darknet, and we are investigating his activities,”Police Commissioner Kamal Pant
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