$870,000 worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen from American billionaire businessman and TV personality Mark Cuban. The FBI has fingered a state-sponsored North Korean hacker group for the incident.
Mr. Cuban only got to know about the theft after he was alerted by a popular crypto news outlet. Although losing nearly a million dollars isn’t especially painful for a billionaire like Cuban, the modus operandi of the theft could provide valuable lessons for crypto holders.
Talk about the crypto theft first surfaced on social media when an X (formerly Twitter) user with the username @WazzCrypto posted about something unusual happening in Cuban’s wallet. The post’s caption read, “Lmao, did Mark Cuban’s wallet just get drained?”
Cuban himself has admitted to being careless about his stolen crypto assets. The theft happened after more than a hundred days of the wallet’s inactivity, and Cuban downloaded what he thought was a new version of the crypto wallet.
“I’m pretty sure I downloaded a version of MetaMask with some s**t in it,” Cuban told newsmen. MetaMask is a free crypto wallet software that allows users to access their Ethereum wallet.
Admitting to being outsmarted by some crypto villains, the Dallas Mavericks owner half-playfully remarked that “someone got me for 5 eth.” Eth refers to Ether, one of the cryptocurrencies he held.
At the time of the theft, 5 Eth was valued at about $9000. In addition, the “Shark Tank” star had lost $861,000 in crypto spread across nine other crypto assets.
The crypto scammers defrauded Mr. Cuban by creating a bogus MetaMask application or extension, which he later downloaded. When crypto investors download these fake applications and input their private keys or seed phrases, they are unknowingly handing over their crypto wallet access to the scammer.
The 65-year-old film producer also remarked that the hackers must have been watching his crypto accounts for quite some time. Immediately after gaining access to his wallet, the fraudsters wasted no time in transferring his assets and emptying the account.
The FBI has been monitoring these types of crypto scams which they believe to be the popular method of a notorious North Korean hacker group called the Lazarus Group. On September 6th, the agency released a statement linking the group to the theft of $41 million in crypto assets of an online casino.
The statement claimed that the hacker group had so far stolen over $200 million worth of crypto assets from unsuspecting users in 2023 alone. “This amount includes, but is not limited to, approximately $60 million of virtual currency from Alphapo and CoinsPaid on or about July 22, 2023, and approximately $100 million of virtual currency from Atomic Wallet on or about June 2, 2023,” the statement read.
The FBI also believes that the group is being sponsored by the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The FBI statement also vowed that they “…will continue to expose and combat the DPRK’s use of illicit activities to generate revenue for the regime, including cybercrime and virtual currency theft.”
Learning from the incident, Cuban will be more careful about scrutinizing crypto wallet applications henceforth. Other crypto owners should do the same.