MapleChange, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Edmonton in Canada, claims to have had all its money stolen. Many do not believe this story because the exchange deleted its internet presence, before re-appearing after people published the address of the owner.
‘We have no more funds to pay anyone back’
Tracking this story through the migraine-inducing tunnels of Twitter, the facts appear to be as follows:
- 22.10.18 – MapleChange boasted of handling trades worth a total of 9.837 BTC ($63,693).
- 27.10.18 – MapleChange temporarily took the site down in order to upgrade the server, which it said was completed successfully.
- 28.10.18 – MapleChange informed users via its Twitter profile: “We have sustained a hack, and we are investigating the issue.”
- 28.10.18 – MapleChange informed users via its Twitter profile: “Due to a bug, some people have managed to withdraw all the funds from our exchange. We are in the process of a thorough investigation for this. We are extremely sorry that it has to come to end like this. Until the investigation is over, we cannot refund anything.”
When challenged by users, the profile responded: “Because we have no more funds to pay anyone back, the exchange has to close down unfortunately. This includes all of our social media.”
Obviously, the second sentence of this statement is a non-sequitur.
But you also deleted your discord and telegram @MapleChangeEx why?
— osoese (@os03se) October 28, 2018
The act of deleting its accounts caused numerous media outlets to proclaim that the company had executed an exit scam – that is, that the people behind the exchange had stolen the money themselves. Even Changpeng Zhao of Binance, the most popular cryptocurrency exchange in the world, took note:
Wow, some one should rank exchanges by wallet storage. https://t.co/TffMHOnS1J
— CZ Binance (@cz_binance) October 28, 2018
Reportedly, the sum stolen was 913 bitcoins, or $5.9 million. This figure was reported by a social media account set up specifically to investigate this matter (@maplechang’ed).
I attempted to validate this by looking at the claims made by customers on the dedicated website which MapleChange had set up, but found that the page was not working:
The people behind this new account found the exchange’s IP location and published the name and address of the individual suspected to be behind the company.
This writer considers this behaviour irresponsible. If this is indeed the correct information, it should have been given to the police. There is also the possibility that an unrelated person may find themselves the target of a mob.
Nonetheless, it had an effect. Shortly after the individual’s image began touring the internet, the MapleChange Twitter account became active again with this statement:
“We have not disappeared guys. We simply turned off our accounts temporarily to think this solution through. We cannot refund everyone all their funds, but we will be opening wallets to whatever we have left so people can (hopefully) withdraw their funds.”
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This is reminiscent of the story of a German startup called SaveDroid, which took $50 million in its ICO. CEO Yassin Hankir disappeared with the money and even left a taunt on his Twitter page.
Egypt, Hamrawein Port
Maps: 26.155240, 34.245316 pic.twitter.com/T20AdGWlgs
— ⚡️ 𝕮𝖗𝖞𝖕𝖙𝖔 𝕵𝖆𝖌𝖔 ⚡️ (@CryptoJago) April 18, 2018
However, people being what they are, he was soon located. He reappeared sharpish, claiming that he was only joking; he was trying to raise awareness of how easy it is to be taken by fraudsters. Obviously, this was not terribly appreciated.
How Much Money?
Now, looking at the official website, one sees this:
The figure displayed at right is equal to around $4.7 million, considerably more than the highest amount ever registered previously.
The MapleChange account claims that this is the result of control being taken from the owner(s).
We are unable to. Our exchange has been hacked by someone, and has been manipulated into their favour. pic.twitter.com/TSdmfw8UxK
— MapleChange (@MapleChangeEx) October 28, 2018
The last word from the exchange so far is that it plans to give back what few tokens it still has to the development teams behind those tokens.
I’m sure many communities, Masari included, would *not* support this action – handing over undisclosed funds to developers of a project is a horrible way to handle this, and there’s nobody other than the exchange itself that can confirm and release funds to its rightful owners
— Masari (@masaricurrency) October 29, 2018