An Indian-based private financial firm was issued an extortion threat through email demanding $1.4 million [11.63 crores] worth of coins in cryptocurrency by an anonymous sender. Terming the case to be ‘one of the rarest’ police in its investigation revealed that the firm’s officials had received the mail on November 28, 2021. Following this, it immediately safeguarded the data and subsequently filed a police complaint against the unidentified sender on 7th Jan 2022.
The police on condition of anonymity told a leading news outlet that the sender threatened the officials of the financial entity of deleting sensitive data by hacking into its database. The cops however refused to divulge details of the mail.
On the 8th of January 2022, in an interview with Times Now, Senior police inspector Bharat Jadhav said,
We have received a complaint on Friday and we have decided to check from where the email was sent to the company officials. It is however suspected that the mail has been sent after routing it from several servers. It is a case of threat and an attempt of extortion. the company official did not transfer any cryptocurrency to the suspect. We are probing as to how emails of senior officials were compromised.
Cryptocurrency-linked crime surged to a record high last year. According to a report by blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, scammers took home a record USD 14 billion in crypto in 2021. So. what are the options available against such threats?
The legal course in India
‘In India, neither is cryptocurrency illegal nor is it regulated by any specific legislation yet.’
The first step that can be taken is to register a complaint with the local Cyber-Crime Investigation Cell [in the absence of access to such cell, a visit to the local police station is advised] and provide full details about the nature of the crime, the extent of the damage, and attach the relevant documents, data, and other information relevant to the complaint.
It has been noted that police in India often refrain from registering such cases. This is due to the fact that they are often not technically aware of the laws surrounding cryptocurrency. In such cases, the victims can approach the Indian Judicial Magistrate for filing their complaints and seeking justice under Section 200 of CrPC.