Dubai: Tales of torture have emerged after Indian police uncovered the murder of a Keralite businessman who has been dubbed the kingpin of a Rs450 crore (Rs4.5 billion; Dh229 million) Bitcoin scam.
The body of Abdul Shakoor, a 35-year-old from Malappuram in the south Indian state, was found in a car in the parking lot of a hospital in Dehradun in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand on August 28.
Upon combing through the car, the Dehradun police found a hospital admission card, a diary and some documents, from which they identified the deceased as Shakoor, The News Minute website has reported.
According to hospital authorities, a group of four men abandoned Shakoor’s body in the car there.
The police also found several injury marks on Shakoor’s body, which indicated that he was tortured to death. On further investigation, the police learned that Shakoor was tortured by his co-workers over a Rs4.5 billion Bitcoin scam.
Five men, all hailing from Malappuram, have been arrested: Faris Mamnoon, Arvind C, Asif Ali, Sufail Mukhtar and Aftab Mohammad. The Dehradun police are searching for five more men who have only been identified by their first names and who were part of Shakoor’s core team: Aashiq, Arshad, Yasin, Rehaab and Muneef.
According to Dehradun Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Arun Mohan Joshi, Shakoor was running a Bitcoin business in Kerala.
He had collected an amount of Rs4.5 billion for investing in the cryptocurrency from people in various places, including Manjeri in Malappuram district. He created a network of teams to collect money from various investors. The business, however, failed.
An officer at the Perinthalmanna police, under whose limits the area where Shakoor is from falls under, told the website that the victim was in financial trouble when his Bitcoin business failed and as a result, the investors came looking for him.
Shakoor left Kerala with Aashiq, Arshad, Rehaab and Muneef.
The Dehradun police, on interrogating the accused, found that Shakoor had told his partner Aashiq that his Bitcoin account was hacked and that he was planning to start his own cryptocurrency to pay back investors. However, Aashiq was convinced that Shakoor might have cryptocurrency worth millions of rupees and that if he could get the password to his account, the team could retrieve the amount.
Soon, Aashiq called his agents (the accused who have been nabbed) — Faris, Arvind, Asif, Sufail and Aftab — to hatch a plan to retrieve Shakoor’s password. On August 12, Aashiq took Shakoor to Dehradun and eventually rented a house on August 26. Aashiq was joined by other members involved in the case, and started torturing Shakoor to obtain the password.
“The accused tortured him so much to retrieve the password that Shakoor died. Because crores of money would be lost with his death, the men took him to a hospital, hoping for a miracle. However, since that hospital declared him dead, they took him to another hospital, where they received the same response. So, they abandoned the body in the car and fled the hospital,” Dehradun SSP Arun told the media.
How the accused were nabbed
Using the CCTV footage at the hospitals, the Dehradun police roughly identified the men who came in the car with Shakoor’s body. Various teams surveilled hotel dhabas, bus stands and railway station and even coordinated with the police of other states.
Using the footage, the police traced the men to a bus heading towards Saharanpur/Roorkee in Uttarakhand. Haridwar and Dehradun police followed the bus and stopped it. Based on the appearance of the men and their language, the police nabbed the five men, the report added.