Bitmain Sues Anonymous Hacker Over $5.5 Million Theft

Chinese mining giant Bitmain is suing an anonymous hacker that allegedly stole $5.5 million in cryptocurrency last April from the company’s account on the digital exchange Binance.

The hacker’s identity is still unknown, and he’s described only as “John Doe” in official court documents, which were filed in accordance with the lawsuit on November 7, 2018, with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle. The documents state that the hacker managed to take over the company’s Binance account, then use bitcoin stored in the account to purchase ether tokens. These tokens were utilized to buy and manipulate the price of an altcoin known as MANA coin (MANA).

John Doe then transferred the MANA into a separate Binance account they controlled. The documents explain, “Upon further information and belief, John Doe took his/her market manipulating and theft scam a step further by essentially reversing the same orchestrated trades between Bitmain’s wallet and John Doe’s wallet using a deflated MANA price. While accessing Bitmain’s digital wallet without authority, John Doe placed an order to sell MANA out of Bitmain’s digital wallet at a deflated price. At the same time, John Doe placed a purchase order for MANA at that deflated price from John Doe’s Binance wallet.”

They continue to say, “Binance’s automated system matched the deflated MANA sell order with the deflated MANA purchase order and executed the trade, and John Doe obtained significant gains at the expense of Bitmain. As a result, John Doe benefitted twice from transferring MANA into and out of Bitmain’s digital wallet.”

Once these steps were completed, the court filing reports that the hacker transferred all the crypto funds from the theft into a wallet on Bittrex, a competing digital asset exchange. John Doe then cashed in on the profits and disappeared.

The documents say the hacker willingly and knowingly accessed a protected computer without appropriate permission with the intention of defrauding Bitmain.

“By means of such conduct, John Doe furthered the intended fraud and obtained things of value, specifically bitcoin and other digital assets, causing a loss to Bitmain exceeding $5,500,000,” the filing states.

Specifically, the documents assert that the defendant’s actions are a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and that Bitmain is entitled to specific damages under the Act’s provisions.

It was reported last month that losses incurred by hacks on digital exchanges during the first nine months of 2018 exceed the total losses of 2017 by roughly 250 percent and that approximately $950 million has been stolen this year.

To view the court filing in full, click here.

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