Caixin
Jan 16, 2018 05:50 PM
FINANCE

Bitcoin Bandit Loses $125,000 of Loot

A man accused of stealing 100 bitcoins from a Beijing company — and subsequently losing 10 of them while trying to transfer them to a digital wallet — is currently being detained on suspicion of tampering with a computer information system. Photo: Visual China
A man accused of stealing 100 bitcoins from a Beijing company — and subsequently losing 10 of them while trying to transfer them to a digital wallet — is currently being detained on suspicion of tampering with a computer information system. Photo: Visual China

Most of us have felt at one time or another like our money just disappears. But for one bitcoin thief, this was literally the case.

Beijing police said they detained a suspect in the theft of 100 bitcoins — now worth just over $1.2 million — but that 10 of the coins have disappeared due to an error the alleged thief made when transferring the digital currency.

The saga began in September, when a company based in Beijing’s Haidian district reported a bitcoin theft, according to China News Service, citing a police report released on Monday.

Investigators found that the theft was conducted remotely, with the perpetrator using company passwords to get past initial security barriers.

On Jan. 2, a company employee surnamed Zhong was brought in for police questioning and admitted to stealing the coins by using his administrator rights, according to the police report.

Zhong said his plan was to transfer the currency to an overseas account and sell them, but he did not know which website to do this from, so he searched for digital wallets online to store his 100 bitcoins.

He then heard there was a wallet that could mask the path of transactions, so he placed 10 bitcoins in that wallet. But because of an error in operating the transaction, the 10 bitcoins were lost. No further details were provided by China News Service, which cited the police report.

Zhong has already returned the 90 coins that were still in his possession. He is currently being detained on suspicion of tampering with a computer information system.

Bitcoin was trading at $12,263 at 5 p.m. Tuesday Beijing time, according to the Coindesk bitcoin price index.

As prices have surged, a number of stories have surfaced about lost bitcoins, mostly from people misplacing hard drives or forgetting private keys from many years ago, when bitcoin was worth just pennies. But there have also been major hacks.

Last month, Youbit, a South Korean exchange operator, announced it was shutting down after being hacked for the second time. Youbit said it lost 17% of its total assets during the latest attack. In the earlier attack, in April, nearly 4,000 bitcoins were stolen from the platform.

Contact reporter Liu Xiao (liuxiao@caixin.com)

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