Business 18 April 2018Erik Gibbs
Crypto vlogger alleges theft of $2M during live show
There’s strange, and then there’s strange. In an example of the latter, a cryptocurrency vlogger named Ian Balina was recently the target of a hack on his wallets, resulting in an apparent loss of digital assets worth around $2 million. It all happened during a livestream while Balina was discussing an initial coin offering (ICO), but several issues stand out that are making some wonder if it all wasn’t just a ruse to gain a little attention, as well as free publicity.
Balina has his own YouTube channel with about 116,000 subscribers. Coincidentally, Balina’s video stream was set against a backdrop that was titled, “Are Your Crypto Assets Safe?” During the show, a viewer left a comment, “Ian, did you know that somebody transferred all your tokens from your account?” No one seemed to take notice, not even Balina, and there was no mention of how the viewer could have known that the hack was being conducted at that moment (strange entry number one).
About 20 minutes later, Balina’s feed suddenly went dark and when it returned a few hours later, he explained that it had been due to a power outage. He resumed the show as if nothing had happened, as any good host would do, only to make an off-the-cuff mark a while later that he had been signed out of his Google Sheets profile. He continued the show without any further comment on the subject (strange entry number two).
Advance a few more hours, and Balina is now on his Telegram channel, begging for help from the cryptocurrency community. Balina said, “Hey Crypto Family, I need you now more than ever. I had to end today’s live stream abruptly because I am being hacked.” He went on to say that he wasn’t worried about getting the money returned to him—he only wanted to see the hackers caught (strange entry number three). Losing $2 million in a matter of seconds would be enough to turn almost anyone into Rambo.
Crypto Family, I need you now more than ever. I ended today's live stream b/c I am being hacked. I'm not worried about the money. I learned my lesson. I only care about catching the hacker. Please email any information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you all the support. $ETH $BTC
— Ian Balina (@DiaryofaMadeMan) April 16, 2018
Balina, after another break, returned to his Telegram account to post his theory on how the hack could have occurred. Although it has since been deleted, the post read, “This is how I think I got hacked. My college email was listed as a recovery email to my Gmail. I remember getting an email about it being compromised, and tried to follow up with my college security to get it resolved, but wasn’t able to get it handled in fast manner and gave up on it thinking it was just an old email. I kept text versions of my private keys stored in my Evernote, as encrypted text files with passwords. I think they hacked my email using my college email, and then hacked my Evernote.”
There are certainly a number of questions that the whole scenario raises. How did the individual know that the wallets were being hacked? How could anyone be so nonchalant over losing $2 million? Why does anyone use Evernote?
The good news, Balina announced on Twitter, is that he has “recovered the PundiX tokens the hacker left in the wallet.” The rest, however, is somewhere out there.
1/ Thank you all for the support. We’ve recovered the PundiX tokens the hacker left in the wallet. This is only a small win. We’re making great progress and are following up on a big lead. We have potential suspects, and exchanges are cooperating with our efforts. $NPXS
— Ian Balina (@DiaryofaMadeMan) April 17, 2018
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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