Police accuse BitGrail of ‘hacking itself’ to steal $120 million

The individual behind hacked cryptocurrency exchange BitGrail may have been responsible for orchestrating a hack which stole $120 million from the exchange, according to allegations made public by law enforcement.

Italian police have alleged a 34-year-old man from Florence, known as FF, is thought to be behind the theft from the exchange, which saw the company collapse into bankruptcy with significant losses for its users, Reuters reported.

Some 230,000 account holders at BitGrail were affected in the attack, which honed in on the platform’s reserves of Nano cryptocurrency. FF is thought to have been responsible, or to have taken no action to prevent the attack and the losses which resulted from it.

Director of the National Centre for Cyber Crimes Ivano Gabriell said while under suspicion, the specific role played by FF remained unclear.

“It is not yet clear whether he participated actively in the theft or if he simply decided not to increase security measures after discovering it.”

Law enforcement authorities have said it would have been straightforward for FF to avoid future hacks after first reporting the hack to police in February 2018, but that he “knowingly failed to prevent them.”

FF is now facing a number of charges including fraudulent bankruptcy, fraud and money laundering in connection with the affair.

The collapse of BitGrail remains one of the largest criminal hacks in Italy and indeed the world, with $120 million sitting alongside the biggest losses from a hack so far.

While the role of FF played in the attack remains unclear, police are now looking to establish in court the level of his personal involvement in the theft.

The case serves as another reminder for investors not to leave funds in exchange wallets where they can be misappropriated due to hacking and theft.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, BlockstreamShapeShift and Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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