Binance Freezes Funds Sent from Address Linked to $49M Upbit Hack

Hackers breached crypto exchange Upbit in November 2019, making off with $49 million in crypto — yesterday they tried to sell stolen Ethereum on Binance

With so many exchanges being breached in the past few years, Binance and other major exchanges have resolved to freeze any hack-related funds sent to their trading platforms. Binance did just that after an address linked to the Upbit hack in 2019 reportedly sent 137 Ether (ETH) to the exchange.

On May 13, at about 16:00 UTC, Whale Alert picked out a transaction involving 137 ETH (worth about $27,000) that was sent to the Binance exchange wallet. The bot warned the exchange that the fund’s origin was an address linked to the hacker group responsible for Upbit hack.

Within no time, Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao (nicknamed CZ), tweeted that the exchange had frozen the funds. CZ added that they were returning the recovered funds to Upbit. Binance managed to block and transfer the funds a mere 30 minutes after Whale Alert warned the loot was being moved..

In his tweet, the Binance CEO added:

“Frozen, will work with UpBit to verify and get law enforcement involved and hand off the funds. Waiting for someone to complain on social media about us freezing funds. But fight bad actors, we must.”

It’s not the first time Binance has frozen funds hackers have tried to launder through its exchange. In January 2019, hackers stole $16 million from Cryptopia. The New Zealand based exchange had to cease its operations after the hack. Binance then froze the funds when the hackers later tried to sell them on.

Although Binance succeeded in freezing the 137 ETH transfer, hackers linked to the Upbit hack have still managed to successfully move some of their stolen cryptocurrency holdings through exchanges, including Binance. Data shows that over 3,600 ETH, worth around $725,000, has been moved from the hackers’ wallet in the past 24 hours.

According to Uppsala, nearly $3.2 million in Ethereum (ETH) stolen by the hackers has been laundered through several exchanges. Apart from Binance, the other major cryptocurrency app hackers used was Bitfinex.

While it’s hard to pinpoint the motivation behind the hackers’ decision to send ETH worth $27,000 considering the millions they stole, it is likely the hackers were trying to gauge how quickly Binance acted before deciding to move a larger amount.

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