How can you trace $1.3 billion dollars from a Bitcoin heist? The Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange offers the perpetrators a $400 million share of the funds if Bitcoin is returned.
The exchange announced the reward program on Tuesday, August 4, in an effort to get hackers to hand over the 119,755 bitcoins they embezzled in a robbery in 2016. Apparently, the stolen funds continue to circulate in Bitcoin wallets on the internet, which means someone is in control of that money. At the time of the ”Bitcoin heist”, the price of a bitcoin has soared from $600 to $11,000. As a result, the stolen funds are now valued at $1.34 billion dollars.
To get it back, Bitfinex is offering a 5 percent reward to anyone who brings the exchange into contact with the perpetrators of the robbery. Hackers will receive 25 percent of the total amount of cryptocurrencies to be recovered.
Although Bitfinex is working with authorities to identify the fraudsters, today’s announcement suggests that the company is willing to drop criminal charges as long as the stolen funds are returned to it. Presumably, the exchange will convert the remaining 25 percent of the funds into foreign exchange and transfer them to hackers.
“Payments made to those who bring Bitfinex into contact with the hackers and the hackers themselves will be considered costs of recovering the stolen property,” the exchange said.
Bitfinex did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it would bring criminal charges against the hackers. But the exchange may be desperately trying to get the funds back. Last month, the blockchain watchdog Whale Alert detected 476 of the attack’s stolen bitcoins being moved to an unknown digital wallet.
Update: In the question of the prosecution of hackers, Bitfinex reported that: “Criminal prosecutions are generally at the discretion of government actors. We can’t control the kind of actions the government intends to take—or not take—against hackers.”