Crypto exchange giant Bitfinex has announced a $400 million reward for the return of the funds stolen in the 2016 Bitcoin hack. The move comes on the fourth anniversary of the incident which saw the loss of about 120,000 BTC currently valued at $1.34 billion.
Cryptocurrency-related thefts are still a recurring problem for the industry with over $1 billion stolen in only the first five months of 2020. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials in China have arrested some principal agents involved in the PlusToken crypto scam.
Bitfinex to Pay Hackers if they Return Stolen Bitcoin
Bitfinex announced the reward via a blog post on its website published on Tuesday (August 4, 2020). According to the statement, the move is the latest effort by the platform to recover the funds stolen four years ago.
An excerpt from the post reads:
“Bitfinex is offering a reward to any persons that connect us with hackers responsible for the unauthorized transfer of almost 120,000 bitcoins from the exchange in August 2016. As part of the same initiative, Bitfinex is also offering a reward to the hackers themselves for the return of the stolen property. This incident is a dark chapter in our exchange’s history, and we are pleased to offer this reward as further evidence of our determination to obtain the lost property.”
As part of the reward scheme, Bitfinex is calling on individuals able to connect Bitfinex with the hackers responsible for the theft. The crypto exchange also plans to parley with the hackers directly for the return of the stolen funds.
Anyone able to connect Bitfinex with the hackers will receive 5% of the total funds recovered which amounts to 6,000 BTC (about $67.2 million). The hackers themselves will receive 25% of the returned loot valued at $336 million. According to the press release, Bitfinex will mandate the hackers to prove their ownership of the funds without compromising their identity.
Since the 2016 hack, Bitfinex has been able to recover about 27 BTC in conjunction with U.S. law enforcement. Only hours before the announcement, funds associated with the hack were moved across several wallets as the hackers reportedly attempt to liquidate their stash surreptitiously. If the hackers take up the offer from Bitfinex, it could bring one of the largest Bitcoin hack sagas to a close.
Bitcoin Hack and Other Crypto Thefts Top $1.4B in 2020
The spate of Bitcoin hack and other forms of crypto crimes has not slowed down in 2020. According to cryptocurrency forensics platform CipherTrace, crypto theft totaled over $1.4 billion in the first five months of 2020.
If the trend averages out for the rest of the year, then 2020 could see the second-highest ever losses from crypto-related crimes. According to the CipherTrace report, a lot of the crypto thefts from 2020 were designed to target the panic that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, several law enforcement agencies reported an uptick in crypto scams as cybercriminals utilized multiple attack vectors to siphon money from unsuspecting victims. With exchanges having to adhere to strict know-your-customer (KYC) protocols, laundering the proceeds from these Bitcoin hacks and scams has become increasingly difficult.
In July, hackers gained control of the Twitter accounts of prominent individuals like billionaires Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, among others to carry out a cryptocurrency scam. Authorities have since arrested the alleged mastermind of the attack along with a couple of other principal actors.