$87 Million In Cryptocurrency Allegedly Stolen By Chinese Hackers, Local Authorities Report

  • Three Chinese hackers have been arrested by local authorities for allegedly stealing $87 million in cryptocurrency.
  • Police investigations are still ongoing, but this raises serious concerns as cybercriminals have increasingly begun to target crypto investors worldwide.

Three Chinese citizens who allegedly stole $87 million in Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies were recently arrested by police officials in China, according to a news report by local news outlet Xinhua.

The three suspects from China’s capital Beijing and its Changchun and Hunan provinces were taken into police custody on August 15th, after a 30-day investigation by local authorities. These arrests have reportedly been linked to a complaint filed by a Chinese citizen with the surname Zhang.

In March, Zhang had registered a complaint with the police department in Xi’an, the capital of the Shaanxi province in central China. The Chinese resident claimed that digital currency worth about $14.5 million had been stolen from his crypto account after his computer was hacked.

$87 Million In Cryptocurrency Stolen

According to police reports, local authorities have now managed to identify a suspect, with the last name Zhou, who may have hacked into Zhang’s computer and stolen his crypto assets. Police investigators noted that Zhou’s online activities were tracked with the help of several unnamed local internet companies.

Notably, the investigation also led to the arrest of two other Chinese hackers who are suspected of stealing millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency by breaking into the personal computers of various other local residents.

In total, digital currencies valued at around $87 million (or 600 million Chinese yuan) has been reported to be stolen from crypto accounts belonging to private local corporations and individuals. Chinese authorities believe that the three identified suspects might be responsible for the theft.

Although police investigations are still ongoing, the large amount of cryptocurrency allegedly stolen raises serious concerns, as there are now numerous cases of cybercriminals targeting digital currency investors.

Cryptocurrency Cyberattacks Increasing Worldwide

As CryptoGlobe reported, online hackers are now monitoring over 2.3 million cryptocurrency addresses. These hackers were found to have been using malware programs to alter the intended recipient’s crypto address to one belonging to them. This malicious activity has reportedly led to huge amounts of digital currency being stolen, as the payments are sent to the cybercriminals’ accounts, instead of the intended recipients.

According to a recent research report by a cybersecurity firm, the majority of cryptocurrency cyberattacks occur in China, the United States, and Russia. And, they are largely due to “underestimating” online hackers and “disregard” for basic security measures.

The report by IB-Group noted that most of the compromised crypto accounts they analyzed had been hacked due to the users having easy-to-guess or simple passwords.

Other “attack vectors” mentioned by the security firm included crypto exchanges having insecure user databases and phishing attacks. Ruslan Yusufov, Director for Special Projects at Group-IB, stated that “the significant amounts of already stolen funds signals that the industry is not ready to defend itself and protect its users.”

Dark Web Marketplace Bans Vendors Selling Fake COVID-19 Vaccines for Bitcoin

Dark web marketplace Monopoly Market has reportedly taken a stance against those trying to profit off of the COVID-19 outbreak, banning any vendor trying to take advantage of the pandemic.

According to The Independent, various sites on the dark web have seen a surge in listing selling materials for bitcoin claiming to be able to protect people from the disease. Monopoly Market’s admins have warned users they won’t be allowing these listings.

The market, which is relatively now and has little over 100 active vendors selling drugs ranging from cannabis to steroids for BTC or XMR, made the warning after receiving an influx of coronavirus-related listings from scammers. A forum post reads:

Any vendor caught flogging goods as a ‘cure’ to coronavirus will not only be permanently removed from this market but should be avoided like the Spanish flu.

Monopoly Market is also barring users from selling items impacted by shortages, including face masks. The post adds users are not to “under any circumstances use COVID-19 as a marketing tool.” On dark net markets, fake coronavirus vaccines claiming to be “fully tested and confirmed” have been spotted in listings, going from $200 to $300 in BTC.

There are currently about 20 vaccines in development in labs throughout the world, but experts have warned it could take 18 months for one to meet regulatory tests and standards. The Independent notes these are unrelated to the listings, however, as one vaccine listed on the Agartha market, priced at $300 in bitcoin, contains a mix of nicotine, cocaine, and amphetamines.

Monopoly Market has also called on vendors to take precautions to avoid transmitting the virus to clients:

You should already be doing this but please wear a pair of gloves, old pair of reading glasses, and a face mask if available. Vendors in all conditions should be keeping a certain level of good hygiene.

This is notably not the first time darknet users voluntarily halt the sale of dangerous or dubious products. In 2018, major marketplaces banned the sale of fentanyl after it was linked to hundreds of accidental overdoses.

Scammers, as CryptoGlobe reported, have even been impersonating the World Health Organization to steal bitcoin meant to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Featured image via Pixabay.