On January 24, the Delhi Police Cyber Cell cracked a case of cryptocurrency theft where Rs 30 lakhs worth in various cryptocurrencies, currently valued at Rs 4.5 crores, were stolen from a Delhi-based businessman. The victim had filed a complaint at the Paschim Vihar police station in 2019 that was later transferred to the Cyber Crime Unit on court order. The person had stated that someone had fraudulently transferred his Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash investments from his cryptocurrency wallet.
The Delhi Police team, led by DCP Intelligence Fusion Strategic Ops (IFSO), KPS Malhotra, unearthed that the stolen cryptocurrencies were transferred to wallets maintained by Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian organisation Hamas. The investigating team conducted a blockchain analysis of the wallet where it was found that 6.7 Bitcoins, 9.79 units of Ethereum and 2.44 units of Bitcoin Cash were transferred to three accounts. Out of these, two Bitcoins were transferred to a wallet with the address name ‘Al-QassamBrigades’, and the rest of the stolen amount was sent to five other e-wallets. Details of these accounts were found from information uploaded on the Darknet.
Israel’s National Bureau for Counter-Terrorism had seized the wallets at an earlier time. One of the wallets belongs to Mohammad Naseer Ibrahim Abdulla, another to Ahmed Marzoo – a resident of Egypt, and another wallet belongs to Ahmed QH Safi – a resident of Ramallah, Palestine. Major shares of cryptocurrencies were found in the other wallets being operated from Giza, Egypt and Ramallah.
According to sources, the five-month-long investigation by the IFSO has recovered details that these accounts were used for financing terror operations, while others were directed to a UK-based gambling site and child pornography. Through its online footprint, it was discovered that in 2019, Al-Qassam Brigades sought donations and also uploaded videos on how a person could make anonymous donations.
“The cryptocurrencies were routed through various wallets and landed in the suspected wallets. We discovered that one of the wallets, that belongs to the Palestinian origination, has been seized by Israeli authorities for counter-terror financing,” said KPS Malhotra. Delhi Police commissioner Rakesh Asthana will be communicating the latest developments to the authorities at home and abroad through the appropriate channels.
There are ongoing calls to regulate and crack down on the digital wallets long favoured by cybercriminals for laundering funds. In India, trading and setting up of cryptocurrency exchanges is legal, despite no laws regulating it yet.