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Hackers Grab $615m in Project Ronin Crypto Heist

The group said unidentified hackers stole 173,600 ether tokens and 25.5 million USD Coin tokens on March 23, but most tokens remain in the hackers’ digital wallet

Bitcoin has plunged 29% this year. Photo: Reuters.


Blockchain project Ronin said on Tuesday that hackers stole cryptocurrency worth almost $615 million from its systems, in what would be one of the largest cryptocurrency heists on record.

The project said that on March 23 unidentified hackers stole 173,600 ether tokens and 25.5 million USD coin tokens. At current exchange rates, the stolen funds are worth $615 million, but they were worth about $540 million at the time of the attack.

This makes it the second-largest crypto theft on record, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.

Ronin is used to power the popular Singapore-developed online game ‘Axie Infinity’, which uses non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and is the biggest NFT collection by all-time sales volume, according to NFT market tracker CryptoSlam.

Ronin said in a blog post that the hacker had used stolen private keys – the passwords needed to access crypto funds – to make off with the funds. Ronin said it had discovered the hack on Tuesday.

“We are working directly with various government agencies to ensure the criminals get brought to justice,” it said, adding that it was discussing with Axie Infinity how to ensure no users’ funds were lost.

Ronin’s users are unable to withdraw or deposit funds on the network, it said.

Ronin did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via Twitter. It said it was working with blockchain tracker Chainalysis to trace the stolen funds. Most of the funds are still in the hacker’s digital wallet, Ronin said.


Biggest Crypto Heists

Hacks have long plagued crypto platforms. The crypto arm of Jump Trading said last month it had restored more than $320 million to crypto platform Wormhole after the decentralised finance site was hit with one of the largest crypto heists on record.

Last August, hackers behind what is likely to be the biggest ever digital coin heist returned nearly all of the $610 million-plus they stole from the DeFi site Poly Network.

In 2018, digital tokens worth $530 million were stolen from Tokyo-based platform Coincheck. Mt Gox, another Japanese exchange, collapsed in 2014 after hackers stole half a billion dollars worth of crypto.

Ronin is developed by Singapore-based game studio Sky Mavis, which owns Axie Infinity. Sky Mavis does not give contact details on its website. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via LinkedIn.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.


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