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Hacker plans to give away stolen bitcoins, but Reddit users are suspicious

The community questioned the Robin Hood scheme to donate $585,000 worth of stolen cryptocurrency, suggesting it could be an attempt to launder the money.

by Keegan Hamilton
Aug 4 2016, 2:20pm

Photo de Benoit Tessier/Reuters

A Reddit user claiming to be connected to the hackers that stole about $65 million in Bitcoin earlier this week announced a plan to give some of the ill-gotten cryptocurrency away to one "lucky" Reddit user. But the community immediately questioned the Robin Hood scheme, suggesting that even if true it could be an attempt to launder the money.

Bitfinex, a popular Hong Kong-based Bitcoin exchange, revealed the massive digital heist on Tuesday, saying 119,756 bitcoins were lost when its systems were compromised, allowing thieves to loot users' Bitcoin wallets. The hack caused the value of Bitcoin to tumble by 20 percent, and Bitfinex suspended trading and withdrawals while it investigates.

Yesterday, a Reddit user with the name "rekcahxfb" — BFX Hacker spelled backwards — said on the site's Bitcoin section that around $585,000 worth of the Bitfinex haul would be donated to "one lucky winner" in the coming week. The hacker said any user who posted a digital address in the thread would be eligible to win.

Related: Bitcoin value drops after hackers steal $65 million worth of it

Reddit users quickly raised questions about the giveaway, suggesting it was a ploy to launder the stolen money. One of the top comments suggested the hacker planned to post his or her own address, then transfer the stolen bitcoin to another account they control.

"It provides an additional 'plausible deniability' to any prosecution," the commenter said. "Receiving stolen funds is a lesser crime than hacking, and theft of tens of millions of dollars."

While other Reddit users suggested ways to randomize the giveaway to prevent laundering, others wondered whether the purported giveaway was actually a hoax. As one commenter pointedly asked, "What kind of a moron thinks this is real?"

Follow Keegan Hamilton on Twitter: @keegan_hamilton