Learned Coding in Class 4, Says Hacker Srikrishna in Center of Bitcoin Row | Bangalore

The man at the center of a political battle between the ruling Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party in Karnataka and the opposition over an alleged multi-million dollar bitcoin scam claimed he had started to learn the coding when he was in Class 4 and was part of a group that hacked into a cryptocurrency exchange five years ago.

Srikrishna Ramesh, aka Sriki, was arrested by the Police Central Crime Branch (CCB) on November 17, 2020, and upon questioning, the CCB discovered he was involved in a series of online crimes. He confessed to hacking and stealing three Bitcoin exchanges, 14 corporate websites, including 10 poker websites, and a government portal.

A statement made by the hacker, which is part of the indictment against him and the police claim she was voluntary, gives a glimpse into the life of Srikrishna, who in his own right was a genius. These details are information provided by the hacker in his voluntary declaration, which has not been corroborated by the police. The police are trying to verify the allegations and HT cannot independently verify them. His lawyers opposed the allegations in the indictment in a local court in Bengaluru.

In his statement, Srikrishna claims that he started to acquire technical skills from the age of 8. The hacker claimed that he started learning the Java programming language when he was in class 4.

“In class 4, I learned the basics of web mining, Java, reverse engineering and wrote my first bot for a game called RuneScape. It was my first attempt at reverse engineering obscured games and binary exploitation, ”he wrote in his statement to police.

In the years to come, he joined an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel used by a group of black hat hackers (unethical hackers). According to him, he learned of the hacking from members of this channel.

“Slowly learning skills as a kiddie script, I learned the basics of databases, SQL injections, local file inclusions, remote file inclusions, remote code executions, shells, the exploitation of web applications and source code analysis, “the hacker wrote of his activities. during school days.

Beginning as a newbie in hacking, over the years he has gained sophisticated knowledge about illegal website hacking and the like. Later, Srikrishna was promoted to moderator of the channel’s forum and administrator of the IRC network when he was in class 9. During this time, he began to make friends in international hacking circles, many of whom have it. advised in financial hacking.

By the time he graduated, he was making hundreds of dollars every month hacking an online game with a hacker friend in Sydney. It was during this pre-university (10 + 2) that he learned about Bitcoins. “When I heard about Bitcoins, the price was around $ 100 (per coin),” he wrote in the statement.

Srikrishna first used bitcoins to buy drugs on the darknet market. “Due to the pseudo-anonymous nature of bitcoin, someone by the name of ‘Ross Ulbricht’ made the first darknet market from which I first imported drugs into India for personal consumption. “Silk Road 1.0 called. I have ordered several packages in two years which have all been successfully cleared,” he wrote.

The hacker claims that at the end of two years of college, he was addicted to drugs and left home at the age of 17. “I fled to the Himalayas at the age of 17 with my friend Rithvik and found myself in Badrinath. A case was registered at Siddapura police station (Missing persons) and Tilaknagar police station (By Rithvik’s mother). Eventually, due to technical madness, the Tilaknagar police found us at ISKCON in Mathura and took us back to Bangalore, ”the hacker wrote.

Upon his return, after dropping out of engineering studies at Bengaluru University, he joined the BSc in Computer Science at Eindhoven University of Technology in Amsterdam. It was here that he learned more about Bitcoins. In Amsterdam, two of his friends started a bitcoin exchange and, working with them, he discovered the bitcoin trade, which he then used to hack bitcoin exchanges.

Srikrishna returned to Bengaluru in 2015 and it was in 2018 that he had his first conflict with the law. On February 18, 2018, the son of Shantinagar Congress Congressman NA Haris, Nalapad, was accused of brutally assaulting a man in a cafe in Bengaluru’s UB City shopping center. Srikrishna, who was then friends with the MP’s son, was charged number three in the case. While all the other defendants in the case have been arrested, Srikrishna managed to escape arrest by changing cities several times, before he could get bail.

In his statement, Srikrishna then listed all of the hacking cases in which he was involved. According to the police investigating the case, he spoke to the police about these cases as if they were great achievements of his life. “He started off by talking about how he hacked his college website to give proxy attendance to his friends. He pointed out the fact that he had not taken any money for it. He also said he hacked several websites to get movie tickets and IPL tickets for his friends. Once again he stressed that he did not take any money for it, ”said a senior Bengaluru police official who declined to be named.

“Like most criminals, he wants to be famous and he wants to be known as, in his own words, a cool hacker. The statement at one point started to sound boastful. We are still unable to verify a large number of claims made by them, where it claims to have hacked websites and servers. Even if he knows the consequences of admitting to having hacked these sites, he cannot help himself, ”added the officer.

“Bitfinex was my first big bitcoin exchange hack; the exchange has been hacked twice, and I was the first person to do so, ”read his description of the Bitcoin exchange hack in 2016. About 120,000 bitcoins, or about $ 72 million at the era, were stolen from Bitfinex in August 2016.

“The second case was a simple spear-phishing attack which led two Israeli hackers working for the military to gain access to the computers of one of the employees, which gave them access to the AWS cloud account,” he said. he writes about hacking.

It was this instance of hacking that made Srikrishna a person of interest in the political battle between Congress and the ruling BJP. Congress alleged a cover-up and link between the hacker and the BJP, alleging that Bengaluru police, who had information about his involvement in December 2020, only disclosed this information to central enforcement agencies April 2021.

In addition to questioning the police who are hiding information about Srikrishna from central agencies, the opposition also alleged that ??9 crore of bitcoins seized from the Srikrishna after his arrest in November 2020, were not indicated in the indictment or in the evidence submitted to the court.

But for Srikrishna, his downfall didn’t start with the hacking or his involvement in the brawl in 2018. It was his drug addiction that got him behind bars. In November 2020, agents from the Central Crime Branch were looking for drug traffickers in the city, under orders from the Home Secretary to crack down on the drug mafia in the city.

On the basis of information, the police approached a Suneesh Hegde who was obtaining hydro marijuana through dealers on the darknet. During questioning, Hedge admitted that it was Srikrishna who was helping him get the drugs. Srikrishna, who has been buying drugs on the darknet for several years, helped Hedge buy as a favor.

A senior CCB official said that when they got custody of Srikrishna they had no idea that an infamous hacker was under arrest. “It was when we tried to find out how he was using bitcoin to buy drugs, we learned about all the hacking cases that he was a part of. Without this drug case, we would never have found this hacker, ”police said.

Prior to his arrest, according to the statement of Robin Khandelwal, an associate of the hacker who converted the bitcoins into cash, Srikrishna was spending most of his time in five-star hotels. According to Khandelwal, most of the money he transferred to Srikrishna was spent on hotel bills, which often ran into a few hundred thousand dollars.

According to the indictment, he also hacked online gaming sites including PokerDangal, PokerBaazi, GGpoker, PPpoker, SwC Poker, BitStarz and Spartan Poker. He used to make his friends play poker at these sites, while Srikrishna hacked the sites to see the opponent’s cards. During the hacks, he had lived in a five-star hotel in Goa for more than a month, Khandelwal said in his statement.

Likewise, while on the run after the assault case in Bengaluru, Srikrishna spent ??11.80 lakh on a private jet for his trip, read the press release.

But as the bitcoin scandal turns into a political standoff, concerns for the hacker increase. In a court application, the father of hacker Gopal Ramesh claimed his son was drugged by police while in custody.

HT granted the petition filed by Srikrishna’s father, which read as follows: “… a request has been filed by the petitioner being the father of the accused that he has credible and reliable information that the respondents (the police) by order and illegal orders administered the petitioner’s son, Srikrishna, with excessive mind-altering drugs, in particular alprazolam, which is a prohibited drug and, therefore, requested that a prosecution be brought against all officials who have committed various offenses under the NDPS Act as well as under the IPC.

He further claimed that although the magistrate ordered a forensic examination of the hacker’s blood and urine samples, the police carried out a stomach wash on him, defying the order. The opposition also produced a document from Victoria Medical College stating that stomach cleansing was done “to rule out poisoning.”

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