Crypto Exchanges See $598M Stolen in First Half of December: Elliptic

Money Cyber Crime Hack Ransom Theft

More than half a billion dollars worth of cryptoassets were stolen from exchanges in the first half of December, compliance firm Elliptic said in a recent blog post.

On Dec. 11 and 12, close to $83 million was stolen from AscendEX, a cryptoasset exchange that is based in Singapore. More than $61 million were Ethereum-based assets while close to $10 million were in assets on Binance Smart Chain. The hack came days after $225 million in assets were swiped from BitMart. It brings the total stolen through Dec. 14 to $598 million.

Over the course of almost a day, wallets belonging to AscendEX were drained of more than 100 different cryptoassets. This included more than $7 million in Polygon’s native currency Matic (MATIC) and north of $5 million in Ethereum’s native currency Ether (ETH).

On Dec. 12, AscendEX confirmed the theft on social media, explaining that one of its hot wallets was compromised. Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC), two of the stablecoins which were taken, were exchanged for DAI, a third stablecoin.

“Both USDT and USDC can be frozen by the token issuers and therefore swapping to DAI ensures the hacker avoids losing these funds,” Elliptic explained.

The hacker also exchanged some tokens for ETH via the decentralized exchange Uniswap. They then sent most of the remaining assets to a few addresses on the Ethereum, Polygon and Binance Smart Chain blockchains, where they laid untouched early on. No early attempts were made to launder the pilfered Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash.

In addition to the AscendEX and Binance Smart Chain capers, crypto gaming platform Vulcan Forge was hit on December 13. They lost 4.5 million Vulcan Forged (PYR) tokens, which are worth an estimated $140 million. More than $376 million in crypto assets were lost from BitMart exchange, DeFi service MonoX Finance, and Badger DAO, a decentralized asset management service, earlier this month.

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