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Tokyo crypto-cops nab their first cryptocurrency hacker: the $134K Monacoin thief

He was spamming withdrawals, and some of them worked

Japan, hacks, first 6 months, bitcoin, cryptocurrency, coincheck, scam

In Japan, an 18-year-old was charged with stealing $134,000 (¥15 million) worth of cryptocurrency, marking the first time local authorities have succeeded in nabbing a hacker for pilfering digital assets.

The Tokyo police department’s cybercrime division identified its suspect for illegally withdrawing virtual currency from Monappy, a cryptocurrency-infused social media platform, reports JapanTimes.

The man later admitted to repeatedly hacking the Monappy service between August and September last year, which caused it to pay out cryptocurrency illegitimately.

An internal Monappy investigation discovered he had applied for roughly 8,200 “Monacoin” remittances using special “gift codes,” which caused around 640 incorrect transfers to execute.

In total, 97,000 Monacoins are said to have been illegally withdrawn, originally belonging to around 7,700 Monappy customers who had been using the site to store their digital coins.

Those Monacoins are currently worth around $50,000 but at the time, its price was almost double what it is today.

“I felt like I’ve found a trick that no one else knows,” the suspect told local media sources. “I’ve been aware that what I was doing was wrong, but it was fun to see my account balance continue increasing.”

He then reportedly commented that he had committed the crimes as if he were playing a game.

This isn’t the first case of theft-via-hacking in Japan. Back in early 2018, exchange service Coincheck suffered a devastating attack that saw over $500 million in cryptocurrency stolen, which is still the largest attack in cryptocurrency history.

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Published March 15, 2019 — 15:22 UTC