Police in New Zealand are making “excellent progress” in the investigation of stolen crypto-currency linked to the recently hacked Cryptopia in Christchurch.
That’s according to Detective Inspector Greg Murton, who reported that Cryptopia’s managers are on site at their Christchurch address, with police expected to finish at the premises by Friday 15 February.
“The focus is on identifying those behind this offending and retrieving the stolen crypto currency,” Murton said. “This is a complex investigation involving the theft of cryptocurrency in an unregulated environment.
“The stolen crypto-currency is being actively tracked by police and specialists worldwide due to the nature of the crypto-currency blockchains being publicly available.”
Murton said police are “working closely” with international partners and cyber crime experts to continue the investigation.
“Excellent progress is being made in the investigation and we are working with Cryptopia management plus current and former employees who have been providing valuable assistance,” he added.
“This investigation is expected to take a considerable amount of time to resolve due to the complexity of the cyber environment.”
The update follows speculation that police were exploring the possibility of re-opening Cryptopia in early February.
At this stage however, the exchange platform has been closed for 28 days, with users still blocked from accessing the website.
According to media reports, as much as $23 million worth of crypto-currency may have been stolen during the security breach, as revealed by expert analysis.
Calculations from Elementus, a New York-based blockchain specialist firm, estimated the total value of the stolen crypto-currency - which includes ether and various tokens - at current market prices to stand at approximately $23 million.
The figure significantly surpasses early media speculation, which reported losses ranging from $2.5 million to as much as $11 million, despite a lack of official confirmation.
“This number includes only what's on the Ethereum blockchain (ether and ERC20 tokens),” said Max Galka, co-founder and CEO of Elementus. “We have not examined the Bitcoin blockchain or other blockchains to see if funds were stolen there as well.
“For the last few days, the hackers have been shuffling the funds around in small pieces and gradually moving them into exchanges to cash out.”