A Pakistani crime ring that extorted a partial Bitcoin ransom has been busted.
All the news of a stand-off between Pakistan and India has shrouded earlier reports of an IT professor who was kidnapped and held for 20 million rupees. Shahid Naseer was kidnapped March 19th, according to a local media outlet. Faisal Yousuf, a student of Naseer’s, is named as the primary suspect.
Police Involved in Plot to Extort Over 60 BTC
Three police officials were involved with the ransom. One of them worked in a higher office, managing telephones for the city’s Deputy Commissioner. His name is Mazhar Abbas. He was arrested March 23rd. Two other police officials, both guards of a high court judge, were also arrested – Mohsin Abbas and Mohammad Arif.
A Lahore man called Mohammad Tahir is allegedly a Bitcoin money exchanger in the area. Together with Abdul Rauf, he is accused of helping the kidnappers have an outlet for the Bitcoin ransom they were demanding.
The kidnappers apparently placed a green license plate on a rental car while executing the kidnapping. Green license plates signify two types of official in Pakistan.
Naseer’s family paid out 2.5 million rupees worth of Bitcoin in an effort to bring him home. Police told Dawn, a local media outlet, that this is how they caught the kidnappers, “using digital technology.”
Victim’s Family Makes Down Payment, Police Crack The Case
2.5 million rupees will buy you about 9 BTC at current prices.
This is the first report we’ve seen about the kidnapping of Naseer. We note that Faisal Yousuf’s only connection to Naseer is that he was a student of the man. Apparently Yousuf had connections with some policemen. We can assume that being an IT professor, Naseer may have educated his students about cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are routinely used as the preferred method of payment for modern kidnappings. In January, an American was abducted in Costa Rica, and a ransom demand of $1 million in BTC was delivered. The demand was paid but the man was not recovered immediately.
Also in January, two African men were arrested for kidnapping a young boy and demanding a Bitcoin ransom. Not long before that, a Norwegian millionaire was abducted. The abductors demanded $9 million in Monero, perhaps a wiser choice considering how the Lahore gang was apprehended (blockchain tracing).
Another assumption that seems reasonable to make, given the arrest of the two Bitcoin mongers, is that their role in the crime may have been oblivious. Some men, three of whom were police, contacted them about selling a significant sum of bitcoins, and they obliged. Whether justice shows them mercy as such remains to be seen.