The hackers who pulled off the largest cryptocurrency heist in history “for fun” have returned the money — and the company that they stole from wants to pay them for their service.
The decentralized finance platform that was hacked, called Poly Network, confirmed late Thursday that the hackers had returned all of the roughly $610 million worth of stolen Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, with the exception of $33 million worth of the “stablecoin” Tether that had been frozen by its creator.
Poly Network also offered the hackers a reward of $500,000 — or less than one percent of the stolen crypto — for exposing flaws in the platform’s security.
Earlier this week, the hackers stole the $610 million in crypto, then began gradually returning the money in installments.
In a blockchain-based question-and-answer session Thursday, the hackers explained in broken English that they had pulled off the heist “for fun” rather than profit.
“Ask yourself what to do had you facing so much fortune,” the hacker said. “Asking the project team politely so that they can fix it? Anyone could be the traitor given one billion!”
Asked about returning the money, the hacker said that was “always the plan.”
“I am _not_ very interested in money!” the hacker wrote. “I know it hurts when people are attacked, but shouldn’t they learn something from those hacks?”
However, some blockchain experts have been skeptical of the hackers’ claims to be “white hats” who expose vulnerabilities for the greater good.
Critics question whether the hackers returned the crytpo because they risk getting arrested if they turned the money into usable cash.
“Even if you can steal cryptoassets, laundering them and cashing out is extremely difficult, due to the transparency of the blockchain and the broad use of blockchain analytics by financial institutions,” Tom Robinson of UK blockchain analysis company Elliptic told Reuters.