Bitfinex Hackers of 2016 Move $3.5 Billion Worth of Bitcoin

By Robert Drage February 03, 2022 In Bitfinex, Crypto News, Hackers

Billions of dollars’ worth of bitcoin (BTC) stolen in the infamous Bitfinex hack of five years ago have been aggregated into a single wallet in 23 transactions from various addresses. Law enforcement and top analytics firms are still trying to recapture the spoils.

Stolen Bitfinex BTC Resurfaces

On February 1, an estimated US$3.5 billion in BTC was moved from wallets associated with the infamous Bitfinex hack into a single wallet. The Bitfinex hack was one of the worst in history with the perpetrators getting away with 119,756 BTC (now worth nearly US$5 billion).

According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, “so far this morning, 94,643.29 bitcoins [worth] US$3.55 billion have been moved in 23 transactions from a wallet associated with a theft from Bitfinex in 2016 to a new address”.

Flagged account sending 26 tx. Source: Blockstream

The number of BTC transferred amounts to only 79 percent of the total bitcoins drained from Bitfinex in 2016. According to Elliptic, the funds were laundered through darknet markets like Hydra and the privacy-focused Wasabi wallet, but the majority have now again seen the light of day.


Movement Detected Last April

The last time hackers moved some of the bitcoin was in April 2021, when they transferred over US$700 million worth to an unknown wallet during the same time Coinbase was being listed on Nasdaq.

Since the hack, Bitfinex has been trying to recover the stolen funds, stating that to this day that “Bitfinex continues to work globally with law enforcement agencies, digital token exchanges, and wallet providers to recover the Bitcoin stolen in the 2016 hack”. To date, it has recovered about 50 bitcoins (worth nearly US$2 million at current prices), a spokesperson told Decrypt.

Difficulty Trying to Sell Stolen BTC

If the thieves were ever able to onsell all those bitcoins, it has been suggested that it could have an impact on the market as more than 100,000 BTC would come on stream, potentially bringing down the price.

However, as storing and moving bitcoins between unknown wallets is considerably easier than actually selling them, these funds are being carefully monitored with many of the associated wallets blacklisted, making any sale extremely difficult.

Bitfinex itself has also offered a US$400 million bounty for the return of the stolen funds. The Bitfinex hack made the multimillion-dollar hacks of Bilaxy (August 2021) and Mitmart (December 2021) look like small fry in comparison.

Robert Drage

Robert Drage

Robert is a freelance researcher, with a background in information science currently interested in blockchain technology and technical developments in the field.

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