- A $1.1 billion Bitcoin theft is said to have occurred in February 2020, yet it is never talked about
- If verified it would be the biggest ever Bitcoin theft targeting an individual
- Why does no one mention it in the list of top Bitcoin hacks?
As far as Bitcoin thefts go, there have been some big ones. Mt. Gox in 2014, Bitfinex in 2016, and Binance in 2019 are some of the more memorable examples of when bitcoin has been swiped. There is one Bitcoin theft that stands head and shoulders above all the others however, but one that no one aside from a select few band of people ever talks about. This is surprising given that ₿111,000 worth a staggering $1.1 billion was stolen in one go when the theft took place in February 2020. So why does it not appear on any lists of biggest Bitcoin thefts? Because the victim is a certain Craig Steven Wright and the details surrounding it are, naturally, somewhat sketchy.
A Fruitful Hack
News of Wright’s supposed billion-dollar Bitcoin theft emerged in June 2020 when his law firm, Ontier, wrote to Bitcoin company Blockstream telling them that Wright had been the victim of the hack four months previously and wanted his bitcoin back. The story, as Wright would later clarify, went like this.
On February 8, 2020, a gang of hackers broke into Wright’s house and planted a Wi-Fi ‘pineapple’, a device used by network penetration testers behind his TV which allowed the hackers to penetrate his internet connection. They used this to steal two wallets holding a total of ₿111,000 as well as over a million dollars’ worth of BSV tokens, then deleted the private keys. They also, for some reason, deleted 37GB worth of cloud data.
Wright claimed that “several outages across multiple (security) companies occurred right at the same time”, which he says explains how the hackers managed to get into his property to plant the device. This suggests that it wasn’t just one or two people that were involved in the hack on Wright, but an entire Oceans 11-style operation was conducted – one team knocked out the security company networks while the other bypassed the other security features and broke into his house to plant the device.
Stolen Bitcoin Hasn’t Moved
This is just one of the odd things about this case. Next is what the thieves did with the bitcoin they had so brilliantly stolen – nothing. The bitcoin is all still sitting there in the wallets, despite now being worth over five billion dollars. What’s also strange is that Surrey police have never put out a call for witnesses or made any public statement about the case, which has to be one of the biggest, if not the most unique, thefts in the county’s history. It’s not very often that a criminal gang steals over billion dollars’ worth of bitcoin from a private citizen…yet silence.
Wright’s Response Raises Questions
Something else that makes this billion-dollar bitcoin theft seem less than genuine is how Wright reacted. Given that he had lost the equivalent of several fortunes, did he try and elicit some sympathy, which he surely would have received, even from his harshest critics? Did he warn the crypto space about the dangers that lurked out there for wealthy Bitcoin holders?
No. Instead he promised a big announcement that “impacts the ENTIRE space”, “changes every blockchain” and “destroys the lies”. And then he launched legal proceedings against Blockstream, and eventually a bunch of developers, to try and get them to refund his bitcoin.
The Hack Probably Never Happened
All in all, the vague details of the break in, the fact that no bitcoin was actually moved or has ever been moved from the allegedly stolen wallets, and the fact that police have made no comment on the theft or appealed for witnesses in the case all adds up to the theory that the biggest ever Bitcoin theft never actually happened.
It seems that the entire charade was probably cooked up by Wright to enable him to gain control over the Bitcoin blockchain and name, something he has been trying to do since 2016, which is why you won’t see this supposed hack on the list of the biggest ever anytime soon.