Hackers Return Half of Over $600 Million Worth of Tokens Stolen from Poly Network

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Hackers Return Half of Over $600 Million Worth of Tokens Stolen from Poly Network
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The Poly Network hackers returned $342 million worth of tokens back, claiming that they only hacked the network to highlight vulnerabilities.

The Poly Network hackers who stole over $600 million in crypto from the platform returned a substantial amount of the loot on Wednesday. The total sum returned is about $342 million and roughly represents almost 50% of the $613 million drained in arguably the biggest crypto heist in history. The cross-chain DeFi platform received the returned loot in USDC, BUSD, SHIB, and FEI tokens. All returned assets were paid in through Binance Smart Chain, Ethereum, and Polygon, at Poly’s request, according to a report.

In the wake of the initial heist, which occurred on Tuesday, Poly Network called for the blacklisting of three addresses linked to the alleged hacker. It also posted a message urging the culprits to return the assets as there was no hiding place in the blockchain environment. The hackers had earlier reached out to the cross-chain protocol signaling their intention to start returning the funds. About $4.8 million was first returned at around 7 am London time, before an additional $258 million.

Tom Robinson, chief scientist of blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, believes the hackers returned the tokens out of fear. He says it is difficult to discreetly handle stolen cryptocurrencies due to blockchain transparency and analytics. According to Robinson, the “hacker concluded that the safest option was just to return the stolen assets.” In addition, some market observers believe that the partial centralization of decentralized finance came into play here.

Poly Network Hackers Engaged Crypto Community While Returning Funds

As they returned the stolen assets, the alleged hackers took time out to field questions on the Ethereum blockchain. They claimed to take advantage of a vulnerability on the cross-chain DeFi protocol. In a message embedded on an Ethereum transaction, the attackers stated that they attacked Poly Network through a bug. They claim their attack was a preemptive one designed to expose the network’s prevalent flaws. According to them, this was to highlight the flaws before others exploit them. Because of the engagement, the alleged hackers have earned the nickname ‘white-hat hackers’. This is a reference to a type of computer expert who reveals protocol security vulnerabilities that need improvement. Regardless, Ari Redbord, head of legal and government affairs at TRM Labs, believes it is too soon to conclude.

There is an increasing number of decentralized finance hacks in recent times. From January to July this year, the total value of stolen assets was $361 million. According to crypto compliance company, CipherTrace, this represents an increase three times the figures recorded from 2020. In addition to this, fraud and other infractions are also on the rise in the DeFi space. So far this year, the total crypto fraud volume is 54% which is 18 times that of last year. Increased crypto fraud is one of the major reasons why the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is repeatedly calling for increased oversight and regulation of the sector.

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