Coinbase Quietly Settles $1.1 Million Bitcoin Theft Case

The U.K. arm of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has reached a settlement with a digital asset fund manager whose stolen bitcoin worth over a million dollars was transferred to the exchange.

According to Law360, Coinbase U.K. struck a deal with the CEO of Alphabit Liam Robertson to discontinue the legal dispute that had been raging for about two months.

Liam Robertson, CEO of Alphabit

The legal dispute started after Robertson lost bitcoin worth over $1 million in an email phishing attack. This occurred after Robertson agreed to invest over 100 bitcoin in an algorithmic trading fund. However, hackers picked up on the plan before he could invest and tricked him into sending the bitcoin to their wallet address.

Blockchain Technology Saves the Day

A blockchain investigation after the theft was discovered found that 80 of the bitcoin had been routed to Coinbase. Another 15 were sent to peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins while 5 were sent to an offline wallet. At the time, bitcoin was trading at over $11,000 meaning the total value of the stolen coins was over $1.1 million.

Robertson subsequently sought an asset preservation order and it was granted last month. The order prohibited Coinbase from transferring the stolen bitcoin. Additionally, Robertson obtained a Bankers Trust Order which allowed the cryptocurrency exchange to disclose who controlled the wallet containing the 80 bitcoin without flouting its client confidentiality agreements.

Precedent-Setting for Bitcoin?

Rulings made in the case, Roberts v. Persons Unknown, are likely to assist in setting legal precedents on cryptocurrency matters in the U.K. This is especially with regards to establishing whether bitcoin is legal property. It could also assist cryptocurrency fraud victims.

This comes at a time when it is estimated that of all cryptocurrency theft cases, around 13% of them were carried out using phishing attacks, per Investopaedia.

According to Ciphertrace, the first quarter of the year saw cryptocurrency thefts reach $356 million. This would translate to around $47 million being lost through phishing attacks.

Last modified (UTC): September 11, 2019 9:16 PM

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