The cryptocurrency exchange is promising to give the hackers behind the 2016 heist a 25 to 30 percent cut of the funds if the $1.3 billion in stolen bitcoin is returned.
How do you recover $1.3 billion lost in a Bitcoin heist? Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex is offering the hackers responsible a $400 million cut of the funds if the Bitcoin is returned.
The exchange announced the reward program on Tuesday in the hopes the hackers will turn over 119,755 bitcoins lost in the 2016 heist. Apparently, the stolen funds continue to circulate in Bitcoin wallets on the internet, meaning someone is still in control of the money.
At the time, the looted cryptocurrency was only worth $71 million. But in the four years since then, the price of a single bitcoin has ballooned from around $600 to $11,000. As a result, the stolen funds now amount to $1.34 billion.
To get back it back, Bitfinex offering a 5 percent cut to anyone who can put the exchange in touch with those responsible for the heist. The hackers themselves will then receive 25 percent of the total cryptocurrency recovered.
Although Bitfinex has been working with law enforcement to track down the scammers, today’s announcement suggests the company is ready to drop criminal charges as long as it recovers the stolen funds. Presumably, the exchange will convert the remaining 25 percent into fiat money and transfer it to the hackers.
“Any payments made to those connecting Bitfinex with the hackers and the hackers themselves will be classified as costs of recovery of the stolen property,” the exchange said. To verify the hackers are legit, the company is proposing the culprits send a small portion of the stolen funds to a Bitfinex designated wallet. “We will work to ensure this can be done safely, thereby protecting the identities of all parties,” the exchange added.
Bitfinex didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it’s really dropping criminal charges against the hackers. But the exchange may be desperate to get the funds back. Last month, the blockchain tracker Whale Alert noticed 476 bitcoin stolen in the hack was moved to an unknown digital wallet.
UPDATE: On the question of prosecuting the hackers, Bitfinex told PCMag: “Criminal charges are generally the preserve of state actors. We have no control over what action governments may choose to take —or not take— against the hackers.”
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