Over $600 million stolen in Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies is now on its way back as the one of the largest crypto heists ever comes undone

Over $600 million stolen in Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies is now on its way back as the one of the largest crypto heists ever comes undone
Poly Network, a DeFi network, was hacked on August 10Canva
  • The hacker behind the $611 million theft from the Poly Network has started to return the stolen cryptocurrencies.
  • So far, he has returned $1 million in stablecoin USDC, hosted on Polygon, and $1.1 million to Binance Smart Chain (BSC).
  • The attacker created a token called ‘The hacker is ready to surrender’ before initiating the return transactions.
The biggest breach in the space of decentralised finance (DeFi) is being undone. The hacker who stole more than $600 million in Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Ethereum (ETH), Polygon and other cryptocurrencies from the Poly Network — a platform that enables users to exchange tokens across multiple blockchains — has started to return the money.

Stolen assetAmount stolen
Ethereum$273 million
Binance Smart Chain$253 million
Polygon$85 million
Source: Poly Network

The stolen funds cumulatively amount to more than all the criminal losses registered in the DeFi space during the first half of the year amounting to $474 million, according to a report by crypto intelligence company CipherTrace.

However, it’s unlikely that the attacker is doing this out of the goodness of his heart. The hacker’s ID was reportedly obtained by the blockchain security firm, SlowMist.

The Poly Network, which was formed as an alliance between Neo, Ontology and Switcheo blockchain platforms, has also asked the hacker to return the assets — warning that failure to do so could result in legal action against those involved.

“The amount of money you hacked is the biggest one in defi history. Law enforcement in any country will regard this a major economic crime and you will be pursued.”

Statement by Poly Network

So far, $1 million in stablecoin USDC, which on the Polygon blockchain, has been returned to the platform. It was done over three transactions, incrementally increasing the amounts — 10 USDC, 10,000 USDC and then one million USDC.

The attacker has also returned $1.1 million in BTCB, a bitcoin-pegged token on BSC.

‘The hacker is ready to surrender’

At around 9:30 am Indian Standard Time (IST) the hacker wrote, “Ready to return the fund!” in an Ethereum transaction that was sent from the PolyNetwork Exploiter address to itself.

This was followed by another message which read, "Failed to contact the Poly. I need a secured multi-sig [multisignature] wallet from you."

In less than half an hour, the team behind the Poly Network responded to the exploiter address through a transaction that it is "preparing a multi-sig address controlled by known Poly addresses."

The team identified three addresses, which are currently being used to receive the money which was stolen.

But just before the first transactions started to come through to return the stolen money, the attacker first created a token called, “The hacker is ready to surrender”. The token was sent to the designated Polygon address.

According to The Block Research's Igor Igamberdiev, the root cause of the hack was a cryptography issue. This means that the encryption, which stores and transmits data, was lacking.

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