The FBI announced on Wednesday that it had arrested 28-year-old Rikesh Thapa for stealing funds, in the form of Bitcoin from his employer. Thapa, who worked at a blockchain firm that was experimenting with cryptocurrencies in order to diversify its portfolio, had offered to save some company funds in his personal account, but later refused to return the money. US Department of Justice (DoJ) has released an official statement after nabbing Thapa from the Southern District of California.
Thapa has been accused of stealing over a million dollars, out of which, $162,216 (roughly Rs. 1.33 crore) were wrapped as 10 Bitcoins. He had been working as the chief technical officer (CTO) at a tech startup named Blockparty.
“As we allege today, the defendant repeatedly stole from and defrauded the victim company – which he cofounded – in order to fund a luxurious personal lifestyle. In an attempt to hide his crimes, he also deleted and falsified records,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said in the DoJ’s official statement.
The stolen amount was allegedly used by the accused for traveling, clubbing, and purchasing luxury goods, according to the DoJ statement.
Thapa was able to steal BTC because the company that he was working for, was experimenting with cryptocurrencies as a means of diversifying its financial portfolio.
“In August 2018, Thapa diverted at least one of the victim company’s Bitcoin for his own benefit, selling the Bitcoin for approximately $6,500 (roughly Rs. 5.35 lakh) and depositing the proceeds into his account,” the statement noted.
As per the DoJ, Thapa also wrongfully acquired the company’s own utility tokens, but total number of the tokens remains undisclosed.
Thapa has been charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty,” the DoJ added.
The US authorities have reiterated that it is closely monitoring the crypto space and is taking quick action to resolve grievances being reported from the members of the community.
Back in June, the FBI had issued a warning for LinkedIn users from falling prey to crypto scammers out and about for victim hunt.