Industry News

Two brothers arrested for Bitfinex hack and multi-year cryptocurrency phishing campaign

Computer crime authorities in Israel have arrested two brothers in connection with a phishing campaign that spread over multiple years and the 2016 hack of the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange.

21-year-old Assaf Gigi and his older brother Eli, both from Jerusalem, were arrested by Lahav 433 (the Israeli equivalent to the FBI) on suspicion of hacking into the virtual wallets of cryptocurrency investors and stealing thousands of Bitcoins over a long period of time, amassing themselves tens of millions of dollars.

According to police, the pair are suspected of creating fraudulent websites that mimicked cryptocurrency exchanges and online wallets – and duped unsuspecting traders into using them by posting messages on online forums and Telegram groups.

Once cryptocurrency investors had entered their private keys into phoney websites and bogus wallet apps, the brothers were allegedly able to move the contents of legitimate digital wallets into their own.

Computer crime authorities outside of Israel are said to also be investigating the case, as most of the brothers’ alleged victims were based in the United States and Europe.

The two brothers have also been linked to the theft of bitcoins worth US $61 million from the Bitfinex exchange in 2016.

It was reported earlier this month that after almost three years of dormancy, bitcoins stolen in the Bitfinex attack began to be moved.

31-year-old Eli Gigi is reportedly a graduate of Unit 8200, an elite unit inside the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) that trains talented youths in computer coding and hacking skills.

Two luxury cars and a cryptocurrency wallet were seized during a raid of Eli Gigi’s home.

According to local media reports, Eli expressed his desire to assist the authorities with their investigation:

“I was wrong, I came from a bad place. I’m a good boy, and I’m sorry. I’m willing to cooperate.”

About the author

Graham CLULEY

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats.

Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security.

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