Bitfinex Asks Hackers to Return $70 Million Worth of Stolen Bitcoin for 'Enormous Bug Bounty'

Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, which was hacked to the tune of $70 million (119,756 BTC) during the summer, has reached out to the perpetrators in hopes of recovering some of the stolen funds.

Giancarlo Devasini, Risk Manager at Bitfinex, has proposed an “enormous bug” bounty to the hackers that would be disbursed in an anonymous way. While Mr.Devasini didn’t mention any specifics, the announcement alludes to a “privacy-centric” payment method.

The two most popular privacy-oriented digital currencies, which have any liquidity and sufficient market capitalization, would be DASH and Monero.

Bitfinex has asked the hackers to establish a line of communication via Bitmessage, a P2P communications protocol with message encryption, and asks for proof of ownership of one of the Bitcoin addresses that currently holds about 1,757 BTC, which were siphoned off from Bitfinex servers in August.

Giancarlo Devasini writes:
“We believe that a combination of Tor and an anonymous email service should suffice to protect your identity and location. Encrypting your message with our PGP key further guarantees privacy from prying eyes, but to prove your authenticity to us, we ask that you provide the public key associated with 1QDBWKgfftwuraEasMGSUvj9PPrswZv19q and sign your message with the corresponding private key.”
Devasini also put forth an alternative communications method: attaching an encrypted message via OP_RETURN on the Bitcoin blockchain to one of the 2073 addresses holding the stolen funds.

The bold move by Bitfinex management has been met with ridicule and skepticism by the Bitcoin community on Reddit, “These finex guys are hilarious. Unbelievable!,” wrote one Redditor.

While the somewhat desperate maneuver by Bitfinex may seem impractical and unrealistic at first glance, the staggering size of the theft, coupled with the public nature of the Bitcoin blockchain, will make it very difficult for the hackers to cover their tracks completely and spend the stolen coins at some point in the future.

Sophisticated blockchain analysis firms have rendered most Bitcoin tumblers obsolete and every blockchain sleuth is keeping a close eye on the addresses containing the stolen Bitfinex coins.

Giancarlo Devasini posted the plea on October 21, 2016, but so far there hasn’t been any news of contact.