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Police Bust International Bitcoin Extortion Rackets, 96 Arrested

Ninety-six people have reportedly been arrested in India for allegedly extorting bitcoin from foreigners. They set up illegal call centers, posed as police officers, and told the victims that their bank accounts had been used in illegal transactions. They also threatened to immediately arrest the victims and freeze their assets.

Bitcoin Extortionists Arrested in India

Delhi police have reportedly arrested 96 people for allegedly extorting bitcoin from foreign nationals through fake call center schemes. According to local media, 54 people were arrested for running a call center in west Delhi’s Moti Nagar area and 42 were arrested for running a similar scheme in Peeragarhi.

The operation in Moti Nagar was managed from Dubai, PTI reported last week, adding that it duped more than 4,500 people out of about Rs 100 crore, according to the police.

The victims were told that their details came up in a criminal case and their bank accounts had been used for illegal transactions to fund drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, the Commissioner of Police (DCP) explained. The scammers then warned the victims that their bank accounts and other assets were being frozen and they would be arrested immediately.

The scammers gave the victims two options — take legal action or accept an alternative dispute resolution — emphasizing that the latter option would be easier and faster. After choosing the dispute resolution option, the victims were asked to share financial details, including bank account numbers and the amount of money in the accounts.

Meanwhile, the victims were told that the only way to safeguard their finances was to buy bitcoins or gift cards with all the money in their bank accounts. The DCP explained that the bitcoins were then transferred to the wallets controlled by the call center, but the victims were told that they were safe government wallets.

DCP Deputy of Cybercrime Anyesh Roy detailed that a raid was conducted and arrests were made. In addition, “Eighty-nine desktop computers and a server set-up were found at the spot and these were seized.”

The police explained that during interrogation, the accused disclosed that they contacted foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens. They posed as law enforcement officers or officers of other government agencies, such as the U.S. Social Security Administration, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

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