ETH mining pool Sparkpool is temporarily freezing the 2,100 ether payment the firm received on Tuesday, February 19.
The mysterious payment that exceeds what the firm should have received by nearly 600 times has got the crypto community curious as it was way too excessive.
Now Sparkpool says it will freeze the ether as it waits to find out whether the mining fee was erroneously attached or for the “affected sender(s)” reach out.
The transaction in question was an apparent block reward, but it was queer as it involved a 0.1 ETH ($14.8) transfer that attracted a fee of 2,100 ETH ($310,989) being mining reward for block 7,238,290 on the Ethereum blockchain.
The mining firm, however, notified its pool of miners via a statement sent out on Wednesday, February 20 that the more than $300,000 worth of ETH would remain locked for the time being.
That will, however, be for the “next few days” only, the firm’s statement added.
“If the sender does not reach out in the next a few days, Sparkpool will then allocate the fees to miners who are entitled for the reward.”
According to Xin Xu, the firm’s CEO, the decision to withhold the funds was since the block reward involved a significant amount that far exceeded the ether standard rewards. He added that the pool’s users and miners had understood the decision.
Xu added that Sparkpool would seek to correct the anomaly given its need for integrity and the fact that “blockchain is so far not completely run by machines.”
Over the last two days, crypto users have made various suggestions regarding the activity, with some seeing it as a fluke payment that resulted from abnormally high transaction fees being accidentally attached to payments.
Others speculated that the anomaly was nothing but a goodwill gesture from anonymous sources, while a few thought it was a money laundering attempt.
A blockchain analytics firm has however said that the payout might have resulted from a “programming error,” most likely from “an automated bot.”
Joanes Espanol, the CTO of analytics firm Amberdata ruled out an attempt at money laundering, noting that a similar ‘error’ had occurred five times within a few hours. He also added that other mining pools had also received such “erroneous payouts” from transaction fees.
Amberdata’s blockchain explorer shows four other transactions were paid in addition to the single 2,100 ETH. According to the platform, other miners received about 1,890 ETH, with the abnormal rewards coming at blocks 7,238,273, 7,238,275, 7,239,021 and 7,239,023.
Nanopool received the first three transaction payouts while the fourth reward went to Ethermine.
Interestingly perhaps is the discovery that all five transactions (which includes the Sparkpool one) “originated from the same wallet.”
Per the firm, the affected wallet’s overall balance shrunk dramatically from 4,000 to just 400 ETH, something that points to a possible “programming error.”
While Sparkpool’s decision to temporarily freeze the funds is laudable, the whole scenario is a reminder that is important to audit and test smart contract code from time to time.
Ethereum currently trades at $145.70 against the U.S. dollar, with its price declining by about 1.5 percent over the last 24 hours.
The second largest crypto by market cap has traded $4,468,562,027 worth of ETH on the day and has a market cap of $15 billion.
Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile assets and are very risky investments. Do your research and consult an investment professional before investing. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. Never borrow money to invest in cryptocurrencies.