What Happened: A U.S. government task force has reportedly seized more than $2.3 million, out of the $4.3 million, in Bitcoin, which was used to pay the ransom in an attack on the Colonial Pipeline system.
Officials from the Department of Justice said in a press conference on Monday that they had found and recaptured millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin associated with DarkSide – a Russia-based hacker group.
“The sophisticated use of technology to hold businesses and even whole cities, hostage, for profit is decidedly a twenty-first-century challenge,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, adding that “the old adage 'follow the money'” still applies, and that’s exactly what we do.”
According to a warrant filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, officials were able to obtain 63.7 BTC worth around $2.3 million at the time.
Why It Matters: An FBI agent reportedly traced the flow of funds using an online blockchain explorer beginning on May 8, which was the day the ransom was sent, until May 27 when the funds were transferred to a “Subject Address.”
“The private key for the Subject Address is in the possession of the FBI in the Northern District of California,” read the warrant.
Reports began to emerge that the FBI came to obtain the private keys of the address in question after going through crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc COIN servers.
The #Bitcoin associated with Ransomware / Darkside / Colonial Pipeline Co. hack went through the Californian servers of @coinbase and likely seized by U.S. investigators there.— This is Bullish (@thisisbullish) June 8, 2021
Not your keys, not your 63.7 #BTC. pic.twitter.com/4RwZLFww5c
However, these claims were later invalidated by Coinbase’s Chief Security Officer Philip Martin, who stated on Twitter, “Coinbase was not the target of the warrant and did not receive the ransom or any part of the ransom at any point. We also have no evidence that the funds went through a Coinbase account/wallet.”
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