A group of hackers who carried out what is believed to be the largest cryptocurrency heist on record have returned more than half of the money they stole.
According to Reuters, the decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol Poly Network reported on Thursday (Aug. 12) that $342 million of the $613 million stolen two days earlier had been returned. Some $268 million is still unaccounted for, the company said.
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The hackers managed to pull off the theft by exploiting a vulnerability in the Poly Network, which allows users to swap tokens across multiple blockchains. The hackers transferred the stolen assets to addresses on Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain and Polygon.
After the theft, the network urged the hackers to return the funds or face legal action. As Reuters pointed out, the size of the theft was comparable to the $530 million in digital coins taken from Tokyo’s Coincheck in 2018.
This heist occurred amid a rise in cyberattacks and hacking that has accompanied the COVID pandemic. And the $613 million lost by Poly Network eclipsed the $474 million the entire DeFi sector lost from January to July, which shows the risks of the primarily unregulated sector.
The hackers pulled off their crime by exploiting a vulnerability in the digital contracts used by Poly Network. The hackers said they did it “for fun” and had always planned to return the funds, simply wanting to expose the vulnerability before others could. “I am not very interested in money,” said one of the hackers, who had not been identified as of Thursday morning.
In the wake of the attack, the cryptocurrency firm Tether reportedly froze $33 million connected to the theft, while other crypto companies offered their help.
The hack was likely the biggest crypto heist in history, PYMNTS reported earlier this week. Poly Network officials reached out on Twitter to the hackers, telling them the money stolen had been taken from “tens of thousands of crypto community members.”
Read more: Record Crypto Heist Nets Hackers Over $600M