Journalist Laura Shin says she knows who is behind infamous 2016 crypto hack
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A journalist is claiming she’s solved one of the biggest mysteries in crypto: who hacked The DAO in June 2016, draining 3.6 million Ether from its treasury and leading to a contentious hard fork of the Ethereum network.
Unchained podcast host and “The Cryptopians” book author Laura Shin is pointing the finger at TenX co-founder Toby Hoenisch, whom she says denied the hack in an email but never followed up on a promise to provide details refuting her findings.
With the publication of my book today, I can finally announce: in the course of writing my book, my sources and I believe we uncovered the identity of the Ethereum’s 2016 DAO hacker.
— Laura Shin (@laurashin) February 22, 2022
Shin worked with blockchain analysis platform Chainalysis to trace funds from the hack to a Bitcoin mixer and then to an obscure privacy coin named Grin, which was then withdrawn to a Grin node linked to both Hoenisch and TenX.
So in short the DAO hacker used:
* Shapeshift to convert ETC to BTC
* Wasabi to mix the BTC
* 4 Different central exchanges
* Withdrawn to Grin for added privacy
And yet he was a found. Thanks to chain analysis, insider cooperation and the hacker’s ego. It only takes one error.
— Alex Van de Sande (avsa.eth) (@avsa) February 22, 2022
The DAO hack is considered a pivotal moment in Ethereum’s history, foreshadowing the numerous other issues with bad actors abusing smart contracts over the past few years.
Most of the Ethereum community eventually agreed to roll back the hack, but dissenters following a strict “code is law” doctrine rebelled, leading to the original network being kept on as Ethereum Classic.
Hoenisch wrote social media posts boosting Ethereum Classic and trolling Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin over the hack at the time, Shin notes.
Shin told Forbes, her former employer, that the evidence she uncovered was “extremely good” and her partners in the investigation were “extremely, extremely confident about it”.
Julian Hosp, Hoenisch’s co-founder at TenX — a crypto debit card project that eventually failed — said he was stunned when Shin told him about her findings last week.
He tweeted that he sat there for half a minute, “completely incredulous. Was he technically capable? Yes. Could I imagine it? Heck no – but that’s what all neighbors of serial killers say too!!”
“It was unbelievable to me that he was the one who pulled it off,” Hosp said in a YouTube livestream. “I mean, at today’s prices, we’re talking about $11 billion. That’s an insane amount of money.”
Looking back at his emails, though, Hoenisch had seemed to be hard up for cash the week before the attack and flush with money three days after it, Hosp tweeted.
20/ Coincidence? Maybe. Probably. What do I know. I def. didn’t think of anything deeper until a few days ago, when Laura contacted me. I shared all this with her via encrypted e-mail. I didn’t know what evidence she had, but this was an interesting coincidence.
— Dr. Julian Hosp (@julianhosp) February 22, 2022
TenX raised $80 million in crypto during the 2017 ICO (initial coin offering) bubble. Hosp tweeted that the funds were sent to a foundation in Sydney that was run by Hoenisch’s brother.
“Why Australia? Why his brother. Tbh (to be honest): I didn’t think too much of it.”
But Hosp said he now has his suspicions.