Hackers Move $5.7M of Stolen BTC; Not Impressed With Bitfinex’s $400 Million Reward
Bitfinex 2016 hackers move millions worth of stolen BTC between wallets for the first time since the $400 million rewards for returning the 120,000 BTC hacked stash was announced. A total of 478 Bitcoins (BTC) currently worth over $5.8 million moved to unknown wallets with a cybersecurity analyst stating the hackers are planning to “chain hop” the BTC.
On Monday, August 17, reports from Whale Alert, a bot that aggregates transactions on blockchains, confirmed hackers from the Bitfinex hack moved nearly $6 million worth of BTC in two transactions – 467.67 BTC (~$5.77 million) and 5.648296 BTC (~$70,000) – both to unknown wallets.
⚠ 467.67 #BTC (5,773,379 USD) of stolen funds transferred from Bitfinex Hack 2016 to unknown wallet
— Whale Alert (@whale_alert) August 17, 2020
Four years ago, hackers stole over 120,000 BTC, then worth about $73 million, from the Bitfinex exchange causing the most significant daily BTC price drop at the time. Today the Bitcoins are worth over $1.4 billion at current prices, and the hackers seem ready to sell off the whole stash.
Bitfinex launched a return policy for the stolen BTC tokens last week, offering 30% of the total amount of BTC returned or any information to recovering the assets. Despite the reward being over $400 million (for the whole stash returned), the hackers seem comfortable to spend the remaining BTC.
Since the Bitfinex hack, the attackers have cashed out the BTC to new account wallets showing no signs of returning the BTC, with the asset’s price skyrocketing over 80% in 2020. Over the year, hackers have moved massive amounts to new wallets. In May, the hackers moved about 29 BTC (~$255,000) to an unknown wallet and doubled up their actions earlier this month – moving $12 million worth of BTC on the hack’s fourth anniversary.
Currently, several blockchain analysis firms that are tracking the stolen BTC, making it harder for hackers to sell off the assets. According to Rich Sanders, CEO of CipherTrace, a blockchain forensics firm, the hacker’s latest movement of the BTC is to split the assets into many smaller wallets to make it easier to cash out on KYC-less crypto exchanges such as InstaSwap.
Sanders explains the move of splitting the amounts as “chain hopping” whereby having many small accounts become very resource-intensive for authorities to follow through. However, he agrees this can only be done on smaller exchanges that do not have blockchain analysis systems such as CipherTrace and Chainalysis.
With the hackers increasingly cashing out their “profits” and shrugging off the $400 million dollar reward, Bitfinex plans to increase its efforts in tracking down the perpetrators of the theft.