South Korean police have recovered a bumper haul of ethereum (ETH) tokens stolen from an exchange by hackers in 2018 after a three-year search – and the victims, the trading platform’s customers, are set to be reunited with their coins, which have appreciated in value, despite the recent market slump.
An unnamed domestic crypto exchange was raided to the tune of around USD 45m in “mid-2018,” reported the Segye Ilbo and Asia Kyungjae, with hackers making off with some 11 different kinds of tokens, including ETH and bitcoin (BTC).
And although the whereabouts of most of these tokens is still unknown, the police have been relentless in their continued pursuit of the stolen funds – and the hacker group behind it. Their work appears to have paid off in part, with an investigation that involved police forces in five other countries finally closing the net on a stash of ETH 1,360 (worth around USD 3.4m at current prices).
ETH was trading for around USD 450 in mid-2018, and is now trading at over USD 2,500.
The thieves appear to have moved the funds around from wallet to wallet in a bid to throw the police off the scent, but most recently were holding the funds on a Latin American exchange. The police did not reveal the name of the hacked exchange, nor the Latin American exchange the tokens were recovered from.
However, they added that the hackers had moved the funds onto exchanges in “several countries.”
Police cybercrime spokespeople explained that the exchange in question was reluctant to allow overseas officers to access its wallets without firm proof the funds were stolen. They also added that this was the first time crypto stolen from a South Korean company has been recovered from an overseas exchange.
A police official was quoted as stating:
“We have confirmed that a hacker was trying to trade the stolen ethereum for another cryptoasset in order to launder the funds and throw investigators off their trail. The assets will be returned to the victims according to legal procedures and regulations.”