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Police dispute claims more cryptocurrency taken from Christchurch company Cryptopia

Police are disputing claims a further quarter of a million dollars of cryptocurrency has been drained from Canterbury-based trading company Cryptopia. 

On January 16, police began an investigation into the unauthorised transfer of a “significant amount” of digital currencies, thought to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

Blockchain analysis company Elementus’ CEO Max Galka has written a blog post claiming another $260,000 worth of Ethereum (a type of cryptocurrency) has been transferred from about 17,000 Cryptopia wallets (like a bank account for digital currency) since police began investigating. The transfers allegedly began about 1am on Tuesday. 

Staff Photographer/Stuff

Cryptopia, on Colombo St, Christchurch, was in lockdown following a hack where millions of dollars of cryptocurrency was allegedly stolen.

Detective Inspector Greg Murton, of Canterbury police, said it was “not correct” that more currency had been transferred without authorisation.

READ MORE:
* Unauthorised transfers from Cryptopia estimated at $23m
* Cryptocurrency trader Cryptopia headquarters under police lockdown

“We’re looking into that claim but on the face of it we’re pretty satisfied that it’s not correct.

Cryptopia co-founder Rob Dawson leaves a meeting between staff and police.

ADAM BRADLEY

Cryptopia co-founder Rob Dawson leaves a meeting between staff and police.

“But we’re still doing work on that so we can’t comment at this stage.”

Galka’s post said it initially looked like Cryptopia were moving the funds to secure them, but “it became obvious this was the same hacker” when the currency was moved again to a wallet that was used during the original breach in mid-January. 

The post said it seemed Cryptopia no longer had control of their Ethereum wallets, with the hacker able to “withdraw funds from any Cryptopia wallet at will”. 

Christchurch-based Cryptopia co-founder Rob Dawson.

CHRIS HUTCHING/STUFF

Christchurch-based Cryptopia co-founder Rob Dawson.

It also claimed currency was still being deposited into Cryptopia wallets, thought to be automatic transfers from those “mining” the currency.

An earlier post from Galka claimed $23.2 million of currency had been stolen in the initial hack, which were gradually being cashed out through other cryptocurrency exchanges.

It called for exchanges to freeze any stolen funds as soon as attempts were made to trade them.

The transfers, but not the owners, were traceable because wallets remain identifiable when traded on different cryptocurrency exchanges.

Police have now been investigating for two weeks, occupying Cryptopia’s Sydenham offices and calling on overseas experts and law enforcement authorities. 

In a statement, police said good progress was being made and positive lines of enquiry developed to identify the source of the transfer, and where the crypto-currencies have been sent.​

In the trading room at Christchurch-based Cryptopia. (File photo)

CHRIS HUTCHING/STUFF

In the trading room at Christchurch-based Cryptopia. (File photo)

Cryptopia was founded by Rob (Hex) Dawson and Adam Clark as a hobby three years ago.

It now has more than 1.4 million users. It offers trading in a number of different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Litecoin and Doge.

The company has 90 shareholders, most of them with a less than 1 per cent shareholding. The main shareholders are Clark with 30 per cent, Dawson with 27 per cent and Intranel Consulting with 26 per cent.

A cryptocurrency analysis company claims more digital currency has been transferred from Cryptopia.

Staff Photographer/Stuff

A cryptocurrency analysis company claims more digital currency has been transferred from Cryptopia.

Dawson’s father, Pete Dawson, is now the sole director and a 5 per cent shareholder of Cryptopia. He has been approached for comment. 

Police guard the door to Cryptopia's Sydenham offices the day the investigations began.

STUFF

Police guard the door to Cryptopia’s Sydenham offices the day the investigations began.


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