A New Zealand man has pleaded guilty to stealing $172,000 worth of cryptocurrencies from the hot wallets of former exchange Cryptopia
The former employee stole the private keys and accessed the wallets from home in late 2020
He was rumbled when liquidators noticed unusual cryptocurrency movements
A New Zealand man has pleaded guilty to embezzling NZD 245,000 (USD 172,000) worth of cryptocurrencies from former exchange Cryptopia. The man, who has been granted temporary anonymity, admitted two charges yesterday – theft by a person in a special relationship, and theft of more than $1000. Cryptopia collapsed in 2019 following a series of hacks, although the charges in this case aren’t related to that hack but are instead an entirely separate affair. The theft was conducted via a hot wallet private key which the perpetrator copied and took home, highlighting the lack of security on the platform at the time.
Private Keys Downloaded to USB Key
Cryptopia has been under the stewardship of liquidators Grant Thornton ever since it gave up the ghost in February 2019, a month after subsequent hacks crippled the once popular exchange. However, the case in question centers around a former employee who, as reported by Stuff.co.nz, stole the private keys to multiple Cryptopia wallets and transferred them to a USB drive.
He then took the drive home and accessed the wallets from home in late 2020, transferring out 13 BTC, two of which were sent through a Bitcoin mixing service to disguise their destination, as well as $10,000 in other tokens.
Thief Rumbled Thanks to Errant Bitcoin Transfer
The employee’s actions were uncovered when a former Cryptopia customer contacted Grant Thornton to say that he had accidentally transferred some bitcoin to his old Cryptopia wallet, and when the company investigated and uncovered the theft.
The thief admitted his actions and sent the cryptocurrency back, stating that he thought he would get away with it because no one would ever check. If it hadn’t been for the customer mistakenly sending his bitcoin to his old Cryptopia address, he may well have done.