Three Arrested in China Over $87 Million Cryptocurrency Hacking Theft

Yet another example of hackers making millions through malware.

Three individuals have been arrested in China in a nationwide sting operation. They are suspected of stealing cryptocurrency worth approximately $87 million, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Zhang of Xi’an

On March 30, authorities in the city of Xi’an received a complaint from one “Zhang” that his personal computer had been hacked and Bitcoin and Ethereum worth 100 million yuan stolen. A task force was set up to investigate, which concluded that someone had managed to steal the funds remotely while leaving almost no clues.

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The investigators enlisted the help of internet companies and police across the country. After three months of work, a suspect (“Zhou”) was identified. Zhou was observed for two months, and two accomplices (“Cui” and “Zhang”) were identified.

The three were arrested in a coordinated operation on August 15 in Hunan, Changchun, and Beijing. All suspects turned out to be experienced hackers, and their haul estimated at 600 million yuan.

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This follows the recent arrest of 20 people over a crypto-jacking scheme, following a six-month investigation. A security team from the company that operates the WeChat social media platform discovered a malicious mining programme embedded in free downloads. After tracing the programme to Qingzhou, local authorities took over. They found that various downloads promising the better computer performance contained malware, and that almost four million computers nationwide were infected. The scheme actually began in 2015, and it had made the operators 15 million yuan.

Computer Hacking Epidemic

Nowadays people are accustomed to relying on their computers, and crime has stayed abreast. 74 percent of Bitcoin-based gambling websites experienced an attack in the third quarter of 2017, and in August 2018 it was revealed that a hacker called SamSam has been making $300,000 every month since 2016 from his ransomware virus. In June 2018 alone, $31.6 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb and $23.5 million from Israel-Switzerland exchange Bancor.

Cryptocurrency in China

In May 2018 the Chinese government began to urge regional authorities to accelerate blockchain development, which could be considered surprising considering that it spent most of 2017 trying to stamp out the industry – the police even raided a legitimate cryptocurrency conference in Shanghai in April 2018.

But the people are apparently not discouraged, judging by the fact that more than 3,000 new companies were registered with the word ‘blockchain’ in their names in the first half of 2018 alone.

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