At the time of the theft, 500K Bitcoins would have been worth roughly $5 million USD, but with the inflation of the coins value, today’s prices would mark that number somewhere around $4 billion USD.
That’s quite a pay increase from the low salary of an unnamed Russian programmer, an assumed every day regular Joe, for the Russian payment processor Qiwi. It turns out he was no regular programmer by any means, over the course of his employment for the payment service provider, he managed to use company equipment to mine more than 500K Bitcoin.
Sergei Solonin, CEO of the company reported on the event at a recent lecture given at the Moscow Advanced Communications School. Apparently, the equipment used where simple payment terminals used in the production of cryptocurrency. The payment terminal hardware was found to be ideal for running cryptocurrency mining operations, giving the programmer exactly what he needed to mine the 500K Bitcoins.
The amount of coins mined is the real shocker in the story. Not many agencies or institutions out there can claim to have made such achievements, and this was all done by a seemingly simple programmer who capitalized on the system at his disposal. Unfortunately for the programmer, the mined coins were said to be lost somewhere along the way, although there is no real way to prove this is true. It’s possible the claim was made by Qiwi representatives to save face.
It would make since, considering the team at Qiwi attempted to replicate the programmer’s setup and mine for Bitcoin’s themselves. To their surprise after three months of operations however, they found it impossible to match the results created by the mining operations setup by their former employee. There reasoning was that they couldn’t pay the costs needed to pay for running the operation, claiming other miners had already monopolized the network.
When asked what happened to the 500K Bitcoin, the former employee refused to give up any information – instead resigning from the company, with no information on his whereabouts at the time of this writing.
The sad thing for Qiwi, it was obvious the operation would produce more capital for the company than their payment services, but they were never able to see the operation’s vision come to fruition. Whether the former employee really ‘lost’ the Bitcoin or not is unknown, and likely never will be. But it’s for certain that the operation really took place under the nose of one of Russia’s largest payment processors.
One reason he may not have gained access to the tokens could be due to the stance Russia takes on cryptocurrency. The Russian State Duma Committee, has set heavy regulations on cryptocurrency miners, placing them under control by the countries Internal Revenue Code (Russia’s equivalent to the United State’s IRS). It’s possible the funds were seized by Russia’s government, at which time the programmer would be much smarter and safer to walk away, instead of pushing to gain access.
What do you think happened to the 500K Bitcoin? Leave your guesses in the comment section below.