Over $540 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency Stolen In Japan In Six Months
According to a statement attributed to the police agency in Japan, the total number of cases reported to authorities in the country has shot to 158 in the first six months of the year reaching $540 million.
Thefts involving crypto assets in Japan have more than tripled in 2018, the country’s National Police Agency revealed.
Japanese exchanges suffer losses
In an Asahi Shimbun news article published September 20, the police department said that cryptocurrency worth over 60.503 billion yen ($540 million) was reportedly stolen, with all thefts occurring in the first half of 2018.
According to a statement attributed to the police agency, the total number of cases reported to authorities shot to 158 in the first six months of the year.
The rapid increase explains the staggering amounts worth of crypto stolen, which the law enforcement officers say is triple the number of similar cases reported over the same period in 2017.
Interestingly, the whole of 2017 saw the number of incidents stop at 149 reported cases, less than what officers recorded by June this year (158 cases).
In 2017, online thefts of cryptocurrency rose to account for about 662.4 million yen ($5.91 million). This year’s half-year figure is almost 100 times more than what hackers stole then.
Of course, you would need to factor in that the Coincheck exchange hack; the largest single such incident in crypto, occurred this January, which saw hackers steal NEM tokens worth an estimated 58 billion yen ($520 million).
The incident sent shockwaves in the entire crypto industry and prompted a raft of measures that resulted in stricter scrutiny from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA).
Individual accounts serve as secondary targets
Aside from the 58 billion stolen from Coincheck, hackers also stole an additional 2.5 billion yen (about $22 million) worth of crypto, with the police agency claiming the tokens were stolen after hackers attacked individual user accounts, as opposed to crypto exchanges.
The report notes that about 60 percent of cyber thefts targeting individual users happened to those individuals whose online footprint involved the use of a single password in accessing many services like email, e-shopping and cryptocurrency connections.
Asahi Shimbun reports that most of the cases occurred between January and March, which accounted for 76 percent, or 120 incidents of the 158 instances that reportedly occurred over the first six months of this year.
That means that just 38 cases occurred between April and June. According to reports, the decline is due to increased consumer awareness. The greater knowledge is a direct result of the Coincheck theft.
Regulatory bodies wake up
That unfortunate incident also led to increased oversight and regulation by the FSA, primarily by ensuring that the exchanges adhere to specific regulatory requirements. Also in the loop are the national police who are working closely with other enforcement authorities.
The January hack of Coincheck led to the theft of $520 million worth of NEM tokens in 36 cases. There were also 94 cases of theft where hackers stole Bitcoin (BTC) worth 860 million yen ($7.7 million).
42 cases involved Ripple (XRP) worth about 1.52 billion yen ($13.5 million). Cyber thieves also stole a total of 61 million yen ($540,000) worth of Ethereum (ETH) spread in about 14 reported cases.
The report detailing an increase in crypto theft cases comes hot on the heels of another attack on an exchange in the country, with the Zaif crypto exchange seeing losses of about 6.7 billion Yen (nearly $60 million) worth of digital currencies.
The security breach occurred on September 14, hackers making off with 4.5 billion yen or $40 million belonging to users and a further 2.2 billion yen from the company.