It has happened again, folks. Another big crypto-related crime has been added to the books, and this time, the lost figures are more than what could have ever been anticipated. Two brothers that opened a crypto exchange in Africa known as Africrypt have made off with more than three and a half billion dollars in customers’ digital money.
Africrypt May Be the Biggest Crypto Theft in History
The brothers – known as Ameer Cajee and Raees Cajee – founded the cryptocurrency trading platform in 2019. Last April, older sibling Ameer informed all the customers that Africrypt had been hacked. Approximately 69,000 bitcoins allegedly went missing, though there were some strange points to the announcement, the biggest one being that traders were asked not to report the incident to local law enforcement.
The brothers claimed that doing so would likely get in the way of their own investigation and prevent the funds from being recovered in a timely manner. This should have been the first red flag to customers, as when something so big is stolen, law enforcement is likely the only entity out there that can potentially find it.
Listening to their guts, a few suspicious traders were quick to let police know about what happened. They also contacted a legal firm known as Hanekom Attorneys, who worked to track the exchange founders down. However, when these attempts proved fruitless, a police agency known as Hawks was asked to step in. Hawks is known for dealing with incidents that deal specifically with financial crimes.
In an interview, Hanekom explained:
We were immediately suspicious as the announcement implored investors not to take legal action. Africrypt employees lost access to the back-end platforms seven days before the alleged hack.
The lawyers were also quick to inform neighboring digital currency exchanges of what had happened and to speak with them should they notice any odd or unusual transactions.
A local bank known as FNB was reportedly responsible for providing monetary services to Africrypt. The bank denied any involvement in the incident during a recent interview and explained:
FNB once again confirms that it does not have a banking relationship with Africrypt. Due to client confidentiality, FNB cannot provide any information on specific banking accounts.
Cryptocurrencies have garnered a lot of negative press over the past few years given that they are often involved in digital fraud and financial crime. Past incidents include Mt. Gox and Coincheck, two compromised crypto exchanges based in Japan that ultimately lost about $1 billion in virtual funds.
Some Don’t Think BTC Serves the Right Purpose
By contrast, this is considered the largest crypto-based criminal incident in the history of the space. The Bank for International Settlement was quick to suggest that the risks surrounding bitcoin made it an asset most traders should avoid. The firm stated:
By now, it is clear that cryptocurrencies are speculative assets rather than money.