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Investigators believe the hacker who made off with $528 million worth of NEM digital coins is trying to sell them for bitcoin on the darknet.   © AP

Coincheck hacker using darknet to trade NEM

Cryptopirate offers bitcoin holders 15% discounts on the alt currency

TOKYO -- The hacker who last month stole 58 billion yen ($528 million) worth of the cryptocurrency NEM from Coincheck appears to be trying to exchange the loot for other digital coins on the darknet, sources close to the investigation said on Thursday.

The hacker is using encryption and anonymous connections in this endeavor, the sources said.

According to the sources, the person believed to own the account into which the stolen NEM was transferred has been trying to make trades for bitcoin. Since Wednesday, messages containing a URL have been sent from the account to a number of other accounts, the sources said.

The messages also promise "15% off." The URL brings internet users to an English site that is offering to exchange several tens of thousands of yen worth of NEM for bitcoin.

"I would guess this person is [using] the darknet because it helps disguise his or her identity," an information security expert said. "Eventually, he or she will exchange this for cash."

Darknet is a general term referring to websites that can only be accessed using special software that disguises users' locations. These sites have become a hotbed of criminals buying and selling personal information, illegal drugs, guns and computer viruses.

Coincheck, a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, has been closed since the hack.


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