Feds seize $3.36 billion in bitcoin, the second-largest restoration to date



The crypto market has been battered this 12 months, with practically $2 trillion wiped off its worth since its peak.

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The Division of Justice introduced Monday that it seized about $3.36 billion in stolen bitcoin throughout a previously-unannounced 2021 raid on the residence of James Zhong.

Zhong pleaded responsible on Friday to at least one rely of wire fraud, which carries a most sentence of 20 years in jail.

U.S. authorities seized about 50,676 bitcoin from Zhong throughout a search of his home in Gainesville, Georgia on Nov. 9, 2021, the Division of Justice mentioned, asserting particulars of the Division’s second largest monetary seizure to this point. It follows the $3.6 billion in allegedly stolen cryptocurrency linked to the 2016 hack of the cryptocurrency change, Bitfinex.

Based on authorities, Zhong stole bitcoin from the unlawful Silk Highway market, a darkish internet discussion board on which medication and different illicit merchandise had been purchased and offered with cryptocurrency. Silk Highway was launched in 2011, however the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut it down in 2013. Its founder, Ross William Ulbricht, is now serving a life sentence in jail.

“For nearly ten years, the whereabouts of this large chunk of lacking Bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion thriller,” mentioned U.S. Lawyer Damian Williams.

Based on the Southern District of New York, Zhong took benefit of the marketplaces’ vulnerabilities to execute the hack.

IRS-CI Particular Agent in Cost Tyler Hatcher mentioned Zhong used a “subtle scheme” to steal the bitcoin from the Silk Highway market. Based on the press launch, in September 2012, Zhong created 9 fraudulent accounts on Silk Highway, funding every with between 200 and a pair of,000 bitcoin. He then triggered over 140 transactions in fast succession, which tricked {the marketplace}’s withdrawal-processing system to launch roughly 50,000 bitcoin into his accounts. Zhong then transferred the bitcoin into a wide range of pockets addresses all underneath his management.

Public data present Zhong was the president and CEO of a self-created firm, JZ Capital LLC, which he registered in Georgia in 2014. Based on his LinkedIn profile, his work there centered on “investments and enterprise capital.”

His profile additionally states he was a “massive early bitcoin investor with intensive information of its internal workings,” and that he had software program improvement expertise in pc programming languages.

Zhong’s social media profiles embrace photos of him on yachts, in entrance of airplanes, and at high-profile soccer video games.

However a lot of these hacks did not finish with the Silk Highway’s demise. Crypto platforms proceed to be susceptible to criminals.

In October 2022, Binance, the world’s largest crypto change by buying and selling quantity, suffered a $570 million hack. The corporate mentioned a bug in a sensible contract enabled hackers to take advantage of a cross-chain bridge, BSC Token Hub. Because of this, the hackers withdrew the platform’s native cryptocurrency, referred to as BNB tokens.

In March 2022, a unique hacker discovered vulnerabilities within the decentralized finance platform, Ronin Community, and made off with greater than $600 million – the most important hack to this point. The non-public keys, which function a password to guard the cryptocurrency funds in a pockets, had been compromised.

Based on a Chainalysis report, $1.9 billion value of cryptocurrency had been stolen in hacks of providers by way of July 2022, in comparison with slightly below $1.2 billion on the identical level in 2021. 

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