A cybersecurity expert believes that hackers may have converted half of the NEM cryptocurrency stolen from Tokyo-based bourse operator Coincheck Inc. into other virtual coins for laundering.
Following Dirty Money
The primary intent behind converting these coins into other virtual currencies was to make it even more difficult to track the stolen coins. Hackers made these exchanges through the highly controversial dark web. The total loot was estimated to be around 58 billion yen ($547 million).
The conversion began on February 7, 2018, via a website on the dark web, exclusively set up for the purpose of trading virtual coins.
According to reports, transactions are still being made on the website. This continuity implies that more of the stolen NEM will be laundered and in turn, become impossible to trace if successful.
NEM Foundation Tracking Stolen Coins
The stolen NEM is being tracked by the NEM Foundation, a Singapore-based organization that has also been promoting the virtual currency.
The organization is marking accounts being used for illicit transfers.
BTCManager also spoke with Julius Patrick Fresco, a member of the NEM support team, via email regarding these transfers of the stolen funds and he responded in the following:
“The NEM team is still closely monitoring XEM movements from the Coincheck theft of January 25. Due to security concerns around these efforts, we will not be releasing further information on the detailed measures at this time. The decentralized NEM protocol is highly secure and is performing exactly as designed.”
To make things easy for them, they have warned virtual currency exchanges around the world to stop the procession of NEM payments from the marked accounts.
“There have been cases where such marks were erased. Some exchange operators, alerted by an increase in NEM trading, have tried to block suspicious transactions, but those possessing NEM linked to marked accounts simply take the currency elsewhere,” the company stated.
Japan Digital Design Inc. Chief Technology Officer Masanori Kusunoki, who is acquainted with cryptocurrency, said, “It has become evident we cannot block currency laundering just because all transactions are recorded. Exchange operators need to make prior agreements on the handling of stolen virtual coins.”
The hackers stole the NEM currency from Coincheck in late January in the largest digital currency heist in history. The bandits even transcended the 2014 theft of 48 billion yen in bitcoin from the now-defunct Mt. Gox.
Such instances make us question the safety of digital currency and force us to think, is our money safe? Cryptocurrency is the talk of the hour and incidents related to this alternate currency continues to make the rounds on the regular.