On March 17, brothers Karanjit Singh Khatkar, 23, and Jagroop Singh Khatkar, 24, were each sentenced to 24 months in a U.S. federal prison followed by an additional three years’ probation for their part in a scheme to steal Bitcoin from the 63-year old Gresham, Oregon, resident.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the defendants set up a now-defunct Twitter account with the handle @HitBTCAssist and conspired to trick unsuspecting victims into believing that they were in communication with a customer service representative from Hong Kong-based crypto exchange HitBTC.
The federal indictment, filed on July 16, 2019, details how Karanjit and Jagroop Khatkar made contact with the Oregon victim in mid-July of 2018 using the fake Twitter account to respond to her questions about withdrawing her bitcoins from HitBTC.
Over the course of several days, the pair manipulated the victim into handing over personal information, including the victim’s email and crypto exchange account details, and use it to take over her accounts.
Subsequently, the pair transferred 23.3 bitcoin [worth $150,000 as of this writing] from the victim’s HitBTC wallet to Karanjit Khatkar’s Kraken account, another U.S.-based crypto exchange platform. Karanjit then split the proceeds with Jagroop, transferring approximately 11.6 bitcoins to the latter’s Kraken wallet.
They were able to transfer 23.2 Bitcoin (which translates to about $118,000 at today’s prices) from her HitBTC wallet to Karanjit Khatkar’s wallet on the Kraken exchange (Kraken is a U.S.-based online platform that offers services similar to HitBTC). Karanjit Khatkar, in turn transferred approximately 11.6 in stolen Bitcoins to Jagroop Khatkar’s Kraken account.
Within days of the theft, the duo proceeded to spend the liquidated cryptocurrency on a lavish lifestyle involving luxury cars and casinos.
On July 18, 2019, Karanjit Khatkar was arrested upon arrival at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. He was later detained following a pending trial. Jagroop Khatkar voluntarily appeared on December 16, 2019, for his arraignment and change of plea.
The Khatkars pleaded guilty to the charges and were ordered to pay $142,349 in prepayment restitution. Furthermore, a sum of $42,162 was awarded at sentencing, bringing the total figure to $184,511.
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