The Israeli Police cyber unit arrested two brothers, Eli and Assaf Gigi, for allegedly perpetrating a multi-year phishing scheme and participating in a 2016 hack of Bitfinex. Israeli news outlet Ynet reports the two allegedly stole over $100 million in cryptocurrency.
The infamous Bitfinex theft of 119,756 BTC shocked the crypto market with the largest loss of bitcoins by an exchange since the Mt. Gox breach in early 2014.
Earlier this month, some of the stolen bitcoin were recorded moving from wallets connected with the hack, after three years of lying dormant.
Israeli crime news portal Posta reported that several several cyber units across the globe are cooperating in an effort to retrieve the missing funds. The majority of compromised accounts were from users in the U.S. and E.U. In February, Bitfinex announced that some of the stolen bitcoin – 27.66270285 – were returned after being retrieved by the U.S. government.
The Gigi brothers Eli, 31, and Assaf, 21, also allegedly constructed a phishing scheme that involved luring investors from crypto trading forums, such as Telegram or Reddit, onto websites that mimicked prominent crypto exchanges. They would collect the traders’ login and wallet information and use it to transfer the funds stored on legitimate exchanges to their own accounts.
Police allege they may have used other tactics as well, including dropping links to wallet management software that once downloaded would allow access to the victim’s funds.
During a raid of Eli’s house the Israeli police seized one of his crypto wallets, which contained less than the suspected total of stolen funds. They also found two luxury cars.
Eli is a former computer science expert in the IDF, which one reddit user said “would be Unit 8200, the largest military branch in the Israeli army. It specializes in hacking, spying and creating computer viruses (Stuxnet) – many of them are now employed by Google, Microsoft and Coinbase.”
Eli said in court, as reported by Posta, “I was wrong, I came from a bad place. I’m a good boy, and I’m sorry. I’m willing to cooperate.”
The investigation, which began in 2017, is ongoing.
Fish hook image via Shutterstock