Cyberthieves who pulled of biggest crypto coin heist returning tokens: Largest-ever Cryptocurrency theft reversed?

Biggest Cryptocurrency Theft PolyNetwork
Thieves returning stolen cryptocurrencies. Pic credit: Crypto360/Flickr

PolyNetwork has gained back almost 50 percent of the Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Ethereum, and USD Coin. The cryptocurrency broker suffered the largest-ever crypto coin theft, roughly amounting to $611 Million.

In a rather strange turn of events, threat actors who pulled off the biggest cryptocurrency theft have had a change of heart. PolyNetwork has begun receiving the digital tokens that the hackers had successfully transferred to their own wallets.

The biggest-ever cryptocurrency theft ever sees sudden reversal:

PolyNetwork is a platform that multiple blockchain providers, namely, Neo, Ontology, and Switcheo created. The intention behind the multi-platform collaboration was to facilitate the easy exchange of crypto tokens across different crypto platforms, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Two days ago, PolyNetwork had confirmed that it was a victim of a major attack. The platform confirmed attackers successfully compromised their defenses and infiltrated the cryptocurrency holding vault.

The as-yet-unknown hacker group had successfully transferred Binance Chain, Ethereum, and Polygon assets into their wallets amounting to roughly $611 Million. Needless to add, this is by far the largest every cryptocurrency theft.

Poly Network added the threat actor successfully exploited a vulnerability between contract calls. This allowed them gain ownership of funds and transfer them to attacker-controlled wallets:

Blockchain security firm SlowMist offered some technical details of the hack, and laid out the vulnerabilities that allowed cybercriminals to siphon off millions of crypto tokens:

After PolyNetwork confirmed the attack, Binance CEO Changpeng stepped in and assured the company was coordinating with security partners to remediate the situation.

It is important to note that the threat actors were successful. In other words, they were able to transfer the tokens from PolyNetwork’s holdings to their own wallets.

However, in a bizarre turn of events, the as-yet-unknown threat actors have reportedly started returning the stolen cryptocurrencies.

Threat actors start returning stolen crypto coins:

Within just two days, threat actors who stole $611 Million-worth in cryptocurrencies, have started to return the crypto tokens. The thieves have been embedding Q&A messages in transactions explaining the motivation for the hack.

As the thread indicates, the thieves claim they hacked the network because “it was fun”, and are returning the cryptocurrencies “to keep them safe”.

Reports, however, indicate the threat actors might have been spooked by claims from SlowMist. The security firm claimed it had successfully traced the attacker’s email address, IP address, and device fingerprint.

Additionally, PolyNetwork had sent out an open letter to the thieves, urging them to return the stolen tokens. The network had included its email address and an appeal to return “people’s money”.

However, the most obvious motivation might have been the fear about stolen tokens becoming useless.

Multiple crypto token exchange platforms, and online cryptocurrency trading houses had jointly started blacklisting the cryptocurrency assets identified as stolen in the attack.

Such unified stand would have ensured that the threat actors cannot offload a bulk of their stolen tokens in the near future. Moreover, attempts to sell even small amounts might have triggered alarms.

About 50 percent of the stolen assets are now back in the custody of the rightful owners. However, the hacker still has to return another $269 million on Ethereum and $84 million on Polygon.

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