The Pune city police have arrested two cyber experts for allegedly committing a multicrore cryptocurrency seizure scam when their help was sought by the cops for investigating a cryptocurrency fraud which was unearthed in 2018. The accused have been identified as Pankaj Prakash Ghode (38) and Ravindranath Prabhakar Patil (45).
In April 2018, the Pune city police had busted a racket in which several persons were cheated by offering lucrative returns by investing money in cryptocurrency. IPS officer Rashmi Shukla was the commissioner of Pune city police at that time. Two FIRs were lodged at Dattawadi and Nigdi police stations for probing the fraud, under sections 406, 409, 420, 120 b, 109, 201 of the IPC and sections of the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Act.
Police had arrested as many as 17 persons in these cases and help was sought from cyber experts Pankaj Ghode of “Global Blockchain Foundation, Pune” and Ravindra Patil of the “K P M G, Pune” for gathering technical evidence and seizure of cryptocurrency.
A press release issued on Saturday stated that “Additional director general of police (Economic offences), Maharashtra had ordered an inquiry as the role of cyber experts in seizure of cryptocurrency from the accused persons was found to be suspicious.” Accordingly, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber and EOW) Bhagyashree Navtake conducted an inquiry.
The release mentioned that, “Ghode and Patil had seized 241.47858055 bitcoins, 452 bitcoin cash and 94.254124 either from the accused persons. The then investigating officers had handed over technical data recovered from the accused persons to the cyber experts….they were supposed to show utmost sincerity and professional ethics. But Patil allegedly misused the technical data and transferred cryptocurrency from the national and international wallets of the accused to the crypto currency wallets of his and other aides. Also, Ghode allegedly misled the investigating officers by forging the screenshots of the wallet blockchain during seizure of panchanama.
He attached the fake screenshots for investigation purposes,” it stated.
It further said the cyber experts did not seize all the cryptocurrency recovered from the accused persons and cheated the government by producing false information about the seizures. So, a fresh offence of cheating and forgery has been lodged against Ghode and Patil. Inspector Jayant Rajurkar (42) of crime branch lodged an FIRat the cyber police station on Friday. The two accused were arrested and produced before a court on Saturday which remanded them to police custody till March 19. Accused Patil is a former IPS officer of 2005 batch, who left police service after working for a few years.