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Cryptocurrencies

Japan police target about 30 people linked to huge cryptocurrency heist

Suspect transactions account for a third of $530m stolen from Coincheck in 2018

About 30 people are under investigation in connection with a 2018 cyberattack that stole 58 billion yen of NEM cryptocurrency from Japan's Coincheck. (Photo by Koji Uema)

TOKYO -- Police in Japan have identified roughly 30 people for alleged involvement in illegal transactions stemming from 58 billion yen ($530 million at the time) worth of NEM cryptocurrency hacked from the Coincheck exchange three years ago, Nikkei has learned.

The individuals have either been arrested or their cases have been referred to the prosecutors' office, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The 2018 attack on one of Japan's leading cryptocurrency exchanges rattled investors and prompted increased regulatory oversight of the industry.

Conversions involving NEM in these cases total around 20 billion yen, according to the source. The parties responsible for the hack have yet to be identified.

Coincheck's computer system was compromised in the January 2018 cyberattack, with the 58 billion yen in NEM transferred out. The hacked NEM was then offered on the dark web at a 15% discount in exchange for other cryptocurrencies.

Investigators traced the accounts at conventional cryptocurrency exchanges through which the hacked NEM was converted, according to the source, leading to the identification of the 30 or so people.

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