updated 09:42 am EDT, Mon March 10, 2014
Documents posted purport 951,115 BTC still in accounting documents
Enraged Bitcoin holders are beginning to take the ongoing dispute with shuttered and bankrupt exchange Mt. Gox into their own hands. On March 9, hackers seized Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles' Reddit account, posting what it alleged was proof that the executive was retaining much of the crypto currency that he claimed was lost to "transaction malleability." Additionally, what may be a separate group offered for sale what was alleged to be a 20GB stolen database from Mt. Gox, which it claimed had personal details of all of its users, including scans of passports used for identity verification.
Mt. Gox may have suffered the theft of 744,408 Bitcoins (BTC), which at an average market value today, is worth over $387 million. The company blamed an inherent flaw with the currency as the root cause of the problem -- a bug in the protocol potentially allows fraudsters to alter transaction details to make it appear that sending the coins to a different wallet didn't occur, and forcing a resend.
The Reddit account hackers posted a screenshot from what it says is the company's administrative tool for Bitcoin transferral. In the summary, the hackers point to a 951,115 BTC balance, which they claim is evidence of betrayal of the community by Karpeles. "It's time that MTGOX got the bitcoin communities wrath instead of [the] Bitcoin Community getting Goxed," referring to the Internet slang term which arose during Mt. Gox's existence when users had to wait extended periods of time for transactions to complete.
The database posted does point to large amount of BTC handled by the exchange, but does not contain any explicit proof that Karpeles took the coins. The revealed information, if legitimate, may just prove that accounting was shoddy at the firm, coupled with unidentified theft. However, given the nature of the "currency," analysts can follow the movement of stolen BTC, and in some cases, track the transaction path. At present, the investigators aren't seeing any movement of the alleged stolen Bitcoins, and if the coins were in fact in circulation after theft, some movement would be likely.
A poll of 3,000 users undertaken by CoinDesk showed that 68 percent of Mt. Gox customers were still awaiting payment for the exchange, many for one to three months, with 21 percent waiting for over three months. Mt Gox claims that that it has $22.4 million and 2,000 BTC in the company's custody, with another $10.5 million held by CoinLab and the US Department of Homeland Security. It lists 624,408 BTC in customers' wallets, 120,000 owed to the exchange itself, and 80,208 BTC suspended from banned or suspicious accounts.
On the Reddit account, the hackers posted a 716MB file with stolen data from the Mt. Gox adminstrative servers. The data included an Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of thousands of trades, worldwide financial data, Karpeles' home address, as well as the CEO's CV. On this data reveal, personal information about Mt. Gox users was redacted.
However, also over the weekend, user "nanashi_____" offered for sale 20GB of user information purported to be from Mt. Gox. The user offering the database for sale on the BitcoinTalk forum offered the document for 100 BTC, saying that "this document will never be elsewhere published by us. Selling it one or two times to make up personal loses from gox closure." The post has since been deleted for violating the terms of service of the forum.
Regardless of the deletion of the database sale offer, the public damage has been done. There are several threads on the BitcoinTalk forum now, claiming (with little actual public proof) that the pair of databases out in the open over the weekend point to Karpeles' having robbed the users of the exchange.