- Bitfinex hackers have moved ₿473 ($5.8 million) of the funds taken in the 2016 hack
- The exchange recently offered financial incentives of up to $400 million if the stolen Bitcoin was returned
- The Bitfinex hackers have nothing to gain and everything to lose by agreeing to the deal, so the move is not likely related
The Bitfinex hackers have moved over ₿473 ($5.8 million) out of the wallet associated with the 2016 hack, two weeks after the exchange offered incentives to the hackers to return the funds. While some may take this move as the first stage in a return of the stolen funds, it’s more likely that there are other reasons behind the move given that the hackers have nothing to gain and everything to lose by agreeing to Bitfinex’s offer.
Bitfinex Offers $400 Million Deal
Bitfinex hackers took the exchange for ₿119,756 in August 2016, worth over $72 million at the time. The hack resulted in the Bitcoin price sliding by 16% and it took three years before anyone was fingered for the crime; in 2019 two Israeli brothers, Eli and Assaf Gigi, were arrested for their involvement in the crime.
Some of the stolen Bitcoin has been retrieved but the vast majority is still in the hackers’ possession, leading to Bitfinex making an extraordinary offer two weeks ago. The exchange publicly offered the hackers up to $400 million in financial incentives for the return of the remaining Bitcoin, which is now worth $1.344 billion (minus the 2019 recovery). The deal also includes a 5% recovery fee for anyone who puts Bitfinex in contact with the hackers, should the contact lead to the return of any funds.
Bitfinex Hackers Have no Incentive To Agree
Unsurprisingly the Bitfinex hackers have failed to respond to this plea either in writing or by deed. Yesterday saw the first action since the request, with ₿473 sent to unknown wallets across two transactions, but it is unlikely that this was part of a plan to return it:
⚠ 467.67 #BTC (5,773,379 USD) of stolen funds transferred from Bitfinex Hack 2016 to unknown wallet
— Whale Alert (@whale_alert) August 17, 2020
The Bitfinex hackers have no real need to comply with the exchange’s request. Blockchain analysts would be able to track any tokens received as part of an incentive package just as well as they would the stolen funds, so there is no reason why the Bitfinex hackers would voluntarily reduce their holding by some two thirds if the outcome could be the same.
It is unlikely therefore that yesterday’s movement of funds was in advance of a return of the funds and was more likely preparatory to cashing some out, moving it to a new wallet, or disguising it through a Bitcoin mixer.