A group of enthusiasts connected Vinnik with Mt.Gox

According to a WizSec years-long investigation, Alexandr Vinnik was laundring stolen Mt.Gox money 
27 July 2017   2986
Blockchain

Distributed database that is used to maintain a continuously growing list of records, called blocks.

A group of WizSec enthusiasts (Bitcoin Security Specialists) has been conducting its own independent investigation for several years of the biggest and most loud stealing of the Bitcoins - the collapse of MtGox.

WizSec published the first part of the results of the investigation, which became publicized in the light of the arrest of Alexander Vinnik.

Investigation summary

Let's check what WizSec had found for us.

  • In September 2011, the MtGox hot wallet private keys were stolen, in a case of a simple copied wallet.dat file. This gave the hacker access to a sizable number of bitcoins immediately, but also were able to spend the incoming trickle of bitcoins deposited to any of the addresses contained.
  • Over time, the hacker regularly emptied out whatever coins they could spend using the compromised keys, and sent them to wallet(s) controlled by Vinnik. This went on for long periods, but also had breaks — a prominent second phase of thefts happened later in 2012 and 2013.
  • By mid 2013 when the funds spendable from the compromised keys had slowed to a near halt, the thief had taken out about 630,000 BTC from MtGox.
  • In addition, the shared keypool of the wallet.dat file lead to address reuse, which confused MtGox's systems into mistakenly interpreting some of the thief's spending as deposits, crediting multiple user accounts with large sums of BTC and causing MtGox's numbers to go further out of balance by about 40,000 BTC. The majority of these funds were hurriedly withdrawn by their recipients rather than being reported.
  • After the coins entered Vinnik's wallets, most were moved to BTC-e and presumably sold off or laundered (BTC-e money codes were a popular choice). In total some 300,000 BTC ended up on BTC-e, while other coins were deposited to other exchanges, including MtGox itself.
  • Some of the funds moved to BTC-e seem to have moved straight to internal storage rather than customer deposit addresses, hinting at a relationship between Vinnik and BTC-e.
  • The stolen MtGox coins were not the only stolen coins handled by Vinnik; coins stolen from BitcoinicaBitfloor and several other thefts from back in 2011 and 2012 were all laundered through the same wallets.
  • Moving coins back onto MtGox was what let us identify Vinnik, as the MtGox accounts he used could be linked to his online identity "WME". As WME, Vinnik had previously made a public outcry that coins had been confiscated from him (the coins in question coming from Bitcoinica).

Coins flow

WizSec team made a great job, creating a visual scheme of transaction of stolen Mt. Gox Bitcoins.

WizSec coin flow scheme
Coin flow scheme by WizSec

Bitcoin

Is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen.

According to the report, some coins were deposited back to MtGox, and the team could identify which accounts were used to receive them; two in particular were of interest, and were possible to link to the online identity "WME". (Clusters that directly used these MtGox accounts are highlighted in red.) WizSec team state tthat WME has been active since a long time back, often advertising "cheap coins" on the BitcoinTalk forums and willing to trade exchange money codes.

WME was involved with an incident with stolen Bitcoinica funds, which provided yet another strong indicator that we had identified the right man, seemingly the main money launderer behind the MtGox heist. This incident also ended up revealing the name "Alexander Vinnik", though we didn't at the time think it was his real name, having seen many aliases. Arrest suggests it was real after all.

Also, team state that this investigation turned up evidence to identify Vinnik not a hacker/thief but as a money launderer. He may have merely bought cheap coins from thieves and offered a laundering service. 

It worth reminding that trial of the founder of Mt Gox started 10th of July in Tokyo. 32-year old Frenchman Mark Carpeles insist on be innocent.

Most Crypto-Optimists Live in Norway, Bitflyer Study

According to bitFlyer's poll on future of crypto, europeans believes cryptocurrency has future
24 April 2019   82

Most Europeans believe that in ten years digital currencies will continue to be in demand, but they do not have the same confidence about Bitcoin. This is reported by Cryptonews, citing a study of the bitFlyer.

10 thousand people from ten European countries took part in the online survey. Of these, 63% believe in a “bright future” cryptocurrency. However, not all Europeans are confident in the future of Bitcoin - only 55% believe that the first cryptocurrency will exist in ten years.

It is also noteworthy that, despite the fall in prices of most cryptocurrencies that lasted for almost a year, the majority of respondents positively assessed the prospects for the development of the market.

Most of the “crypto-optimists” turned out to live in Norway - 73% of the inhabitants of this Scandinavian country are convinced that a decade later, digital currencies will still be in society. This is followed by Italy (68%), the Netherlands and Poland close the top four (67% each).

The percentage of consumers who believe cryptocurrencies will still exist in 10 years’ time
The percentage of consumers who believe cryptocurrencies will still exist in 10 years’ time

But the exact form of cryptocurrency will exist, almost no one knows. Only 8% believe that they will become money, and 7% - a tool for investment or a means of preserving value.

The fact that Bitcoin is not generating as much support as other cryptocurrencies is in part a symptom of the market’s volatility, but is also a direct impact of the constant media attention that is associated to its volatility.
 

Andy Bryant

COO, bitFlyer Europe

He also added that the study demonstrated how much remains to be done to increase public awareness of the benefits and opportunities of cryptocurrencies.