An attack on FTX that siphoned an estimated $477 million in digital assets just as the crypto exchange entered bankruptcy last year is now showing a “stronger possibility” of being connected to Russia, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.
(Bloomberg) — An attack on FTX that siphoned an estimated $477 million in digital assets just as the crypto exchange entered bankruptcy last year is now showing a “stronger possibility” of being connected to Russia, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.
The unidentified hacker stole hundreds of millions of dollars in assets from FTX’s corporate digital wallets in November 2022. In the days that followed, nearly 3,000 Bitcoin tokens — worth some $75.5 million today — were sent through so-called crypto mixers, Elliptic said in a report on Thursday. The platforms jumble up customers’ coins to obfuscate their transaction history.
The Bitcoin predominantly went through a platform called ChipMixer, whereafter it becomes harder to parse out where the cryptocurrencies ended up. Tracing by Elliptic showed that the hacker’s Bitcoin was largely mixed with Bitcoin from Russian-linked criminal gangs, meaning that the hacker is familiar with the networks used by such groups.
“A Russia-linked actor seems a stronger possibility,” Elliptic said. “Of the stolen assets that can be traced through ChipMixer, significant amounts are combined with funds from Russia-linked criminal groups, including ransomware gangs and darknet markets, before being sent to exchanges. This points to the involvement of a broker or other intermediary with a nexus in Russia.”
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In March, the US Justice Department said that a coordinated international operation led to the shutdown of ChipMixer. The Vietnamese operator of ChipMixer was charged with laundering money.
The identity of the FTX hacker has long been a target of speculation. The stolen funds lay dormant for several months after an initial flurry of laundering following the hack, but began moving again shortly before the trial of FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried began earlier this month.
Bankman-Fried is currently standing trial in New York, charged with defrauding investors out of billions of dollars in funds. He denies all charges.
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