Two Indian-origin Canadian nationals indicted for bitcoin fraud

NEW YORK: Two Indian-origin Canadian nationals have been charged on various counts in a fraud case where they used social media platform Twitter to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of virtual money in their accounts.

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Khatkar, 23, and Khatkar, 24, of Surrey would face one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and , five counts of wire fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and multiple counts of money laundering.

The case involves the duo tricking an Oregon-based woman in transferring her bitcoins worth approximately $233,220 into their account.

Bitcoin is a digital currency without a central bank or single administrator that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries.

According to the indictment, beginning in October 2017 and continuing until August 2018, the defendants used a fraudulent Twitter account with the name to trick the victim into thinking they were communicating with a customer service representative from HitBTC, a Hong Kong-based online platform used to exchange virtual currency.

HitBTC provides its customers with web-based “wallets” to store virtual currency and make transactions.

Using the Twitter account, the defendants responded to the Oregon victim‘s questions about withdrawing virtual currency from her HitBTC account.

They convinced the victim to send information they could use to log on and take over her email, HitBTC and Kraken accounts.

Kraken is a US-based online platform that offers services similar to HitBTC.

The defendants initiated transfers of 23.2 bitcoins from the victim‘s HitBTC account to Karanjit‘s Kraken account who in turn transferred approximately 11.6 in stolen bitcoins to Jagroop‘s Kraken account.

The stolen bitcoins have an estimated present value of approximately $233,220.

In July this year, Karanjit was arrested upon arrival at the in Las Vegas. Jagroop, however, remains at large.

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