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Hackers return $260M of the $613M cryptos stolen from Poly Network

The hackers reportedly used “a vulnerability between contract calls” to pull off the largest crypto heist ever.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Thu, 12 Aug 2021, 07:24 am UTC

Hackers stole $613 million worth of cryptocurrencies on Tuesday in what is described as the largest ever crypto heist ever. But what surprised the crypto community is that the perpetrators promptly returned $260 million of digital currencies.

On Tuesday, cybercriminals hacked the cross-chain protocol Poly Network to steal around $612 in cryptocurrencies from three chains, according to Cointelegraph. The hackers reportedly used “a vulnerability between contract calls” to pull off the heist.

The attack targeted three chains through the Poly Network to cart off various cryptocurrencies. Around $273 million in crypto were stolen from the Ethereum network, $253 million worth of coins were stolen from the Binance Smart Chain, $85 million in USD Coin (USDC) from the Polygon network. Among the tokens stolen during the heist include wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), wrapped Ether (WETH), and renBTC, according to Poly Network.

“Combined with the flow of funds and multiple fingerprint information, it can be found that this is likely to be a long-planned, organized, and prepared attack,” said SlowMist, a Chinese cybersecurity firm. SlowMist said that it has identified the IP address, device fingerprint, and email address of the attacker or attackers by using data from the Hoo exchange and other firms.

What’s surprising is that the hacker or hackers returned more than 40 percent of the cryptos they stole from the various chains. “$260 million (As of 11 Aug 04:18:39 PM +UTC) of assets had been returned: Ethereum: $3.3M, BSC: $256M, and Polygon: $1M,” Poly Network tweeted. “The remainings are $269M on Ethereum, and $84M on Polygon.”

According to a person claiming to be the one behind the heist, the hack was done “for fun” as well as to “expose the vulnerability” before it can be exploited by others, according to Reuters. “I am not very interested in money,” the hacker wrote and claimed that it was always the plan to return the cryptos.

The hacker’s messages were shared by the crypto tracking firm Elliptic and Chainalysis. However, the hacker or hackers are not yet identified until now.

However, Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson believes that the hackers might have opted to return some of the stolen funds because it’s not easy to launder crypto at such amounts. “Even if you can steal crypto assets, laundering them and cashing out is extremely difficult, due to the transparency of the blockchain and the broad use of blockchain analytics by financial institutions,” he said.

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