An eight-year-old boy, the son of a hardware shopkeeper, was kidnapped by a four-member gang of criminals on Thursday evening and the kidnappers have demanded ransom in "bitcoins", which is believed to be the first-ever such case in Karnataka.
Since Thursday evening the kidnappers were negotiating with the parents and wanted money in bitcoins, a kind of cryptocurrency. Initially they demanded 100 bitcoins, valued around Rs 17 crore and then renegotiated the amount to Rs 10 crore which had by Friday afternoon, reached a stage where the ransom amount came down to Rs 25 lakh, a police officer told IANS.
Belthangady, a sleepy town with population less than 20,000 is situated 60 km from harbour city Mangaluru.
Another senior police officer said that the four-member gang, yet to be identified, abducted the boy when he was playing along with his grandfather.
The officer added that though the family has no history of enmity, but the boy's father is known to be an investor in bitcoins among his close circles.
"We suspect that someone close to him is behind this kidnapping," claimed the police.
"Tracking Bitcoins would be really difficult once these parents chose to release the ransom amount. This trade is conducted in the most dubious manner. Hence it is difficult to track it down," said a police officer.
The police officer added that the gang is intentionally negotiating terms in Hindi, in order to mislead the police and parents.
"The kidnappers' Hindi is not as fluent as North Indians would speak. The gang members appear to be from Karnataka itself. We've got some leads and we hope to nab them soon," the officer said and added that the police have formed four teams to nab the gang.
The police have registered a case and investigations are underway.