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30 suspects in 2018 hack of crypto exchange Coincheck arrested in Japan

The suspects exchanged stolen NEM tokens for other cryptocurrencies on a dark website.

Image by: Wikimedia Commons

Mon, 25 Jan 2021, 04:09 am UTC

Japanese authorities have arrested 30 people suspected of their involvement in the hack of the crypto exchange Coincheck three years ago. In January 2018, hackers breached the platform and stole 500 million NEM tokens.

Authorities have already filed charges against the 30 individuals for their alleged involvement in exchanging NEM tokens for other cryptocurrencies, KyodoNews reported. The suspects carried through with the transactions despite knowing that the digital assets had been stolen.

All of the suspects are now in police custody and their cases have been referred to the prosecutors' office, according to Bitcoin.com. The Metropolitan Police Department of Tokyo did not reveal their identities at the moment as the case is still being investigated.

However, it was confirmed that all thirty individuals are residents of Japan. The investigation is expected to wrap up soon as it is nearing the statute of limitations.

Authorities revealed that cyber-investigators were able to trace the accounts used in the illicit transactions. The suspects were able to swap the stolen NEM tokens for other cryptocurrencies on a dark website.

“Some of the suspects exchanged NEM for other digital currencies through the website and cashed their holdings at cryptocurrency exchanges at home and abroad to make handsome profits,” police sources said.

The 30 individuals made several trading transactions worth over 10 billion yen, which was around $96 million at that time. While the traders have been identified and charges, the identities of some of the actual hackers who breached Coincheck’s platform remain unknown.

The crypto exchange Coincheck was hacked on January 26, 2018, where cybercriminals stole 523 million NEM from the platform. At the time, the value of the stolen crypto is estimated to be around $530 million. However, NEM’s price has declined since then and the stolen tokens are now worth around $38 million.

In March 2020, Masaki Kitamoto and Takayoshi Doi were arrested for their involvement in the 2018 hack. However, Kitamoto admitted that he only stole over $19 million from Coincheck.

The $530 million Coincheck hack remains the biggest in the crypto industry followed by the 2014 Mt. Gox hack where $460 million in crypto was stolen. The incident prompted Japanese authorities to impose stricter oversight of the industry.

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