Two Israeli brothers have been arrested for a long-running phishing scam and a hack of the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange that saw them illegally pick up “tens of millions of dollars.” The pair reportedly were behind a scheme for the past three years that allowed them to steal access to the accounts of crypto holders and then siphon off funds from those accounts, according to Finance Magnates. The investigation into their activities dates back to 2017 and is still ongoing, leading investigators to assert that the theft may be even larger than what they current believe.
Eli and Assaf Gigi created a number of fake crypto sites that looked just the real deal. They then attracted unwitting crypto fans to those sites, where the users would deposit funds. The Gigi boys would advertise on platforms such as Telegram and others and the traders innocently believed they were signing up to the real sites. Once they submitted their private keys, the brothers took the information and used it to transfer wallet holdings from the users to their own storage.
The victims are reportedly, for the most part, from the European Union and the U.S., and the investigation will involve law enforcement departments in countries across the globe. As more details are uncovered, it’s possible that other accomplices could be found.
When police raided Eli Gigi’s residence last week, they located a crypto wallet, but the contents were much lower than what has been stolen. After his arrest, he reportedly told a judge, “I was wrong, I came from a bad place. I’m a good boy and I’m sorry. I’m willing to cooperate.”
Eli Gigi is reportedly a bright individual who would have otherwise had a successful and fruitful future. He graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and then enlisted in the Talpiot unit of an academic military program designed to “train technological security leaders for the research and development and weapons systems of the defense establishment,” according to Israel’s Posta news outlet.
The judge hearing the charges against the two, Guy Avnon, stated after hearing Eli’s remorseful comments, “It is clear that this is an educated person, a young man who has no previous convictions, and I have found that at this stage of the proceedings, these facts do not change the need to order the suspect’s detention.”
On the other hand, Assaf wasn’t as vocal. He reportedly remained silent during his interrogation and was later transported to a hospital for unknown reasons.
The two are also believed to be involved in the hack of Bitfinex in 2016. However, this has not yet been confirmed and local police won’t comment.
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