Leading MLA’s that includes 16 Uttar Pradesh politicians received crypto extortion messages on WhatsApp this week from a racketeer who is reportedly based in the Gulf. The message said that the payment has to made in the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
The 16 MLAs (includes 14 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members and a former MLA) complained of receiving text and WhatsApp messages asking them to pay Rs 10 lakh failing which their families will be killed within three days.
Apart from the MLA’s from Uttar Pradesh, a BJP politician in Rajasthan also received a crypto extortion message on Sunday and Monday asking him to pay up in cryptocurrency.
Initial investigation reveals that the messages sent to the UP politicians are most probably from Ali Baba Budesh, who is a Bahrain-based gangster. However, there have been no reported activities by Budesh in India for a long time now. The police in Mumbai do not think that the gangster is involved in the threat. They said that the last known threat made by Budesh in India was to filmmaker Rakesh Roshan in the year 2000 when his film ‘Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai’ released.
The gangster at the time had demanded the overseas rights for the film, and when Roshan did not succumb to his threats, his men shot the filmmaker, injuring him.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath ordered the police to enlist the anti-terrorist squad and the STF in order to probe into the threats.
Anand Kumar, Additional director general, law, and order, said that a special investigation team to probe the threats has been formed. Amitabh Yash, inspector general (IG) of the STF will supervise the investigation. He will be assisted in the probe by senior superintendent of police (SSP) of STF, Abhishek Singh.
“In all the cases, the extortionist has threatened to target their families in case the amount is not paid. The content of the message in all these cases is the same,” said Kumar.
The crypto extortion messages, asking the payment to be made in bitcoin raises fears of fraudulent activities that can occur in cryptocurrency if not careful.[The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or the official policy of the website. ]