The Uttarakhand police on Friday night arrested five people in Roorkee on charges of torturing to death a man accused of being the kingpin of a Rs 458-crore Bitcoin scam.
According to police, Abdul Shakoor, who hailed from Kerala, had been on the run from investors for the past two months. On Wednesday night, the 24-year-old’s accomplices tortured him till he died, and then left his body in the ward of a hospital in Dehradun and fled.
A case of murder was lodged against 10 people at the Prem Nagar police station. The five arrested on Friday night were on way to Delhi in a bus when they were nabbed.
As the cause of death in post-mortem of deceased is “uncertain”, Dehradun police has preserved his viscera, said Dehradun SSP Arun Mohan Joshi. He added that the police were on the lookout for the remaining accused, and said that five police teams have been dispatched in the search of them.
“We are investigating the case of murder. Kerala Police have been informed about the entire matter and we will provide all kind of support if Kerala Police or any other agency will need in probe,” Joshi said.
Police said Shakoor had allegedly collected around Rs 485 crore for investing in Bitcoin from the residents of Manjiri, Pandikkad and Malappuram in Kerala with the help of three associates. The dispute among them began when Shakoor claimed losses in the Bitcoin business and he, along with his core team members, fled Kerala about two months ago to avoid investors.
Shakoor’s family has claimed that the 24-year-old did not flee Kerala, but was abducted by a “gang” on July 20. “The gang included investors and criminals who had vandalised his house and forcefully took him away. The gang had threatened the family not to move any complaint with police. Shakoor had also advised against moving police fearing for his life from the abductors,” his relative Ansar said.
Ansar claimed Shakoor had been running a multi-level marketing business based on crypto-currency, which was registered in Thailand. “He has been facing threats and abuse from investors for last couple of months after the business started sliding….,” he said.
Ansar also said that Shakoor would call his family every day, informing them that issues are being sorted out. He had also been in touch with the family on Wednesday – the day he was reportedly murdered.
According to the Uttarakhand Police, the five arrested said that Shakoor had claimed his Bitcoin account was hacked, and that he was going to launch his own crypto-currency to pay back the investors’ money. But his associates believed that Shakoor still had several hundred crores in his Bitcoin account, and hatched a plan to find his password.
“All 10 accused started pressuring Shakoor to share the password. They tortured him. When Shakoor’s body stopped responding following brutal torture, four of them on Wednesday night took him to a hospital expecting his recovery… When doctors declared him brought dead, they took him to another hospital where too doctors made same declaration. After that these four youths fled from the scene leaving the body and a car in hospital,” a police official said.
However, the Kerala Police has said that so far, they have not got any complaints from investors or others about the loss of their money.
Malappuram Additional SP M Subair said, “We were informed by our counterparts in Dehradun about the murder. However, there is no probe in Malappuram district related to the incident.”